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Presented by: John F. Evans 
In memory of: J. Fred Evans 



Walter w. Mclaughlin 



Aspen, Colorado 

March, 1886. 




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Difference between Man and Brutes — Mind-Language and Soul-Lan- 
guage — Origin of Language: A Gift of the Creator, a Human In- 
vention, or an Evolution — Nature and Value of Myth — Origin of 
Myth: The Divine Idea, a Fiction of Sorcery, the Creation of a 
Designing Priesthood — Origin of Worship, of Prayer, of Sacrifice 
r ■ — Fetichism and the Origin of Animal- Worship — Religion and My- 
thology " 1 



Quiche Creation-Myth — Aztec Origin-Myths — The Papagos — Montezu- 
ma and the Coyote — The Moquis — The Great Spider's Web of the 
Pimas — Navajo and Pueblo Creations — Origin of Clear Lake and 
Lake Tahoe — Chareya of the Cahrocs — Mount Shasta, the Wig- 
wam of the Great Spirit — Idaho Springs and Water Falls — How 
Differences in Language Occurred — Yehl, the Creator of the Thlin- 
keets — The Raven and the Dog 42 



Sun, Moon, and Stars — Eclipses — The Moon Personified in the Land 
of the Crescent — Fire — How the Coyote Stole Fire for the Cahrocs 
— How. the Frog Lost His Tail — How the Coyote Stole Fire for 
the Navajos — Wind and Thunder — The Four Winds and the Cross 
— Water, the First of Elemental Things— Its Sacred and Cleansing 
Power — Earth and Sky — Earthquakes and Volcanoes — Mountains 
— How the Hawk and Crow Built the Coast Range — The Moun- 
tains of Yosemite 108 





Boles Assigned to Animals — Auguries from their Movements — The Ill- 
omened Owl — -Tutelary Animals — Metamorphosed Men — The 
Ogress- Squirrel of Vancouver Island — Monkeys and Beavers — 
Fallen Men — The Sacred Animals — Prominence of the Bird — An 
Emblem of the Wind — The Serpent, an Emblem of the Lightning 
— Not Specially connected with Evil — The Serpent of the Pueblos 
— The Water-Snake — Ophiolatry — Prominence of the Dog, or the 
Coyote — Generally though not always a Benevolent Power — How 
the Coyote let Salmon up the Klamath — Danse Macabre and Sad 
Death of the Coyote 127 



Eskimo Witchcraft— The Tinneh and the Koniagas — Kugans of the 
Aleuts — The Thlinkeets, the Haidahs, and the Nootkas — Paradise 
Lost of the Okanagans — The Salish, the Clallams, the Chinooks, 
the Cayuses, the Walla Wallas, and the Nez Perces — Shoshone 
Ghouls — Northern California— The Sun at Monterey — Ouiot and 
Chinigchinich — Antagonistic Gods of Lower California — Coman- 
ches, Apaches, and Navajos — Montezuma of the Pueblos — Moquis 
and Mojaves — Primeval Race of Northern California 140 



Gods and Religious Rites of Chihuahua, Sonora, Durango, and Si- 
naloa — The Mexican Religion, received with different degrees of 
credulity by different classes of the people — Opinions of different 
Writers as to its Nature— Monotheism of Nezahualcoyotl — Present 
condition of the Study of Mexican Mythology — Tezcatlipoca — 
Prayers to Him in the time of Pestilence, of War, for those in Au- 
thority — Prayer used by an Absolving Priest — Genuineness of the 
foregoing Prayers — Character and Works of Sahagun 178 



Image of Tezcatlipoca — His Seats at the Street-corners — Various 
Legends about his Life on Earth — Quetzalcoatl — His Dexterity in 
the Mechanical Arts— His Religious Observances— The Wealth 
and Nimbleness of his Adherents — Expulsion from Tula of Quet- 
zalcoatl by Tezcatlipoca and Huitzilopochtli — The Magic Draught 


— Huemac, or Vemac, King of the Toltecs, and the Misfortunes 
brought upon him and his people by Tezcatlipoca in various dis- 
guises — Quetzalcoatl in Cholula — Differing Accounts of the Birth 
and Life of Quetzalcoatl — His Gentle Character- — He drew up the 
Mexican Calender — Incidents of his Exile and of his Journey to 
Tlapalla, as related and commented upon by various writers — Bras- 
seur's ideas about the Quetzalcoatl Myths — Quetzalcoatl considered 
a Sun-God by Tylor, and as a Dawn-Hero by Brinton — Helps — 
Domenech — The Codices — Long Discussion of the Quetzalcoatl 
Myths by J. G. Miiller 237 



Various uccounts of the Birth, Origin, and Derivation of the name of 
the Mexican War God, Huitzilopochtli, of his Temple, Image, 
Ceremonial, Festivals, and his deputy, or page, Paynal — Clavigero 
— Boturini— -Acosta — Solis — Sahagun — Herrera — Torquemada— J. 
G. Midler's Summary of the Huitzilopochtli Myths, their Origin, 
Relation, and Signification — Tylor — Codex Vaticanus — Tlaloc, 
God of Water, especially of Rain, and of Mountains — Clavigero, 
Gama, and Ixtlilxochitl — Prayer in time of Drought — Camargo, 
Motolinia, Mendieta, and the Vatican Codex on the Sacrifices to 
Tlaloc — The Decorations of his Victims and the places of their 
Execution — Gathering Rushes for the Service of the Water God — 
Highway Robberies by the Priests at this time — Decorations and 
Implements of the Priests — Punishments for Ceremonial Offences 
— The Whirlpool of Pantitlan — Images of the Mountains in honor 
of the Tlaloc Festival — of the coming Rain and Mutilation of the 
Images of the Mountains — General Prominence in the cult of Tla- 
loc, of the Number Four, the Cross, and the Snake 288 



The Mother or all-nourishing Goddess under various names and in 
various aspects — Her Feast in the Eleventh Aztec month Och- 
paniztli — Festivals of the Eighth month, Hueytecuilhuitl, and of the 
Fourth, Hueytozoztli — The deification of women that died in 
child-birth — The Goddess of Water under various names and in 
various aspects — Ceremonies of the Baptism or lustration of chil- 
dren — The Goddess of Love, her various names and aspects — Rites 
of confession and absolution — The God of fire and his various 
names — His festivals in the tenth month Xocotlveti and in the 
eighteenth month Yzcali; also his quadriennial festival in the 
latter month — The great festival of every fifty-two years; lighting 
the new fire — The God of Hades, and Teoyaomiopue, collector of the 



souls of the fallen brave — Deification of dead rulers and heroes — 
Mixcoatl, God of hunting, and his feast in the fourteenth month, 
Quecliolli — Various other Mexican deities — Festival in the second 
month, Tlacaxipehualiztli, with notice of the gladiatorial sacrifices 
— Complete Synopsis of the festivals of the Mexican Calendar, fixed 
and movable — Temples and Priests 349 



Revenues of the Mexican Temples — Vast number of the Priests — Mexi- 
can Sacerdotal System— Priestesses — The Orders of Tlamaxcaca- 
yotl and Telpochtiliztli — Religious Devotees — Baptism — Circum- 
cision — Communion — Fasts and Penance — Blood-drawing — Human 
Sacrifices — The Gods of the Tarascos — Priests and Temple Ser- 
vice of Michoacan — Worship in Jalisco — Oajaca — Votan and Quet- 
zalcoatl — Travels of Votan — The Apostle Wixepecocha — Cave 
near Xustlahuaca — The Princess Pinopiaa — Worship of Ccstahun- 
tux — Tree Worship 430 



Mara Pantheon — Zamna — Cukulcan — The Gods of Yucatan — The 
Symbol of the Cross in America — Human Sacrifices in Yucatan — 
Priests of Yucatan — Guatemalan Pantheon — Tepeu and Hnrakan — 
Avilix and Hacavitz — The Heroes of the Sacred Book — Quiche 
Cods — Worship of the Choles, Manches, Itzaes, Lacandones, and 
others — Tradition of Comizahual — Fasts — Priests of Guatemala — 
Gods, Worship, and Priests of Nicaragua — Worship on the Mos- 
quito Coast — Gods and Worship of the Isthmians — Phallic Wor- 
ship in America 4G1 



riginal Ideas of Future — General Conceptions of Souls — Future 
State of the Aleuts, Chepewyans, Natives at Milbank Sound, and 
Okanagans — Happy Land of the Salish and Chinooks — Conceptions 
of Heaven and Hell of the Nez Perces, Flatheads, and Haidahs — 
The Realms of Quawteaht and Chayher — Beliefs of the Songhies, 
Clallams, and Pend d'Oreilles — The Future State of the Califor- 
nian and Nevada Tribes, Comanches, Pueblos, Navajos, Apaches, 
Moquis, Maricopas, Yumas, and others — The Sun House of the 
Mexicans — Tlalocan and Mictlan — Condition of the Dead — Jour- 
ney of the Dead — Future of the TIascaltecs and other Nations 510 






Native Languages in Advance of Social Customs — Characteristic Indi- 
viduality of American Tongues — Frequent Occurrence of Long 
Words — ■Reduplications, Ereniientatives, and Duals — Intertribal 
Languages — Gesture-Language — Slave and Chinook Jargons- 
Pacific States Languages — The Tinneh, Aztec, and -Maya Tongues 
The Larger Families Inland — Language as a Test of Origin — Simi- 
larities in Unrelated Languages — Plan of this Investigation 5."U 



Distinction between Eskimo and American — Eskimo Pronunciation 
and Declension — Dialects of the Koniagas and Aleuts — Language 
of the Thlinkeets — Hypothetical Affinities— The Tinneh Family 
and its Dialects — Eastern, Western, Central, and Southern Divi- 
sions — Chepewyan Declension — Oratorical Display in the Speech 
of the Kutchins — Dialects of the Atnaha and Ugalenzes Compared 
— Specimen of theKoltshane Tongue — Tacully Gutturals — Hoopah 
Vocabulary — Apache Dialects — Lipan Lord's Prayer — Navajo 
Words — Comparative Vocabulary of the Tinneh Family 574 



The Haidah, its Construction and Conjugation — The Nass Language 
and its Dialects — Bellacoola and Chimsyan Comparisons — The 
Nootka Languages of Vancouver Island — Nanaimo Ten Command- 
ments and Lord's Prayer — Aztec Analogies— Eraser and Thompson 
River Languages — The Neetlakapamuck Grammar and Lord's 
Prayer — Sound Languages — The Salish Family — Flathead Gram- 
mar and Lord's Prayer — The Kootenai — The Sahaptin Family — 
Nez Perce Grammar — Yakima Lord's Prayer — Sahaptin State and 
Slave Languages — The Chinook Eamily — Grammar of the Chinook 
Language — Aztec Affinities — The Chinook Jargon 604 



Multiplicity of Tongues — Yakon, Klamath, and Palaik Comparisons — 
Pitt River and Wintoon Vocabularies — Weeyot, Wishosk, Weitspek, 



and Ehnek Comparisons — Languages of Humboldt Bay — Potter 
Valley, Russian and Eel River Languages — Porno Languages — 
Gallinoinero Grammar — Trans-Pacific Comparisons — Chocuyem 
Lord's Prayer — Languages of the Sacramento, San Joaquin, Napa, 
and Sonoma Valleys — The Olhone and other Languages of San 
Francisco Bay — Runsien and Eslene of Monterey — Santa Clara 
Lord's Prayer — Mutsun Grammar — Languages of the Missions Santa 
Cruz, San Antonio de Padua, Soledad, and San Miguel — Tatche 
Grammar— The Dialects of Santa Cruz and other Islands 635 



Aztec-Sonora Connections with the Shoshone Family — The Utah, Co- 
manche, Moqui, Kizh, Netela, Kechi, Cahuillo, and Chemehuevi — 
Eastern and Western Shoshone, or Wihinasht — The Bannack and 
Digger, or Shoshokee — The Utah and its Dialects — The Goshute, 
Washoe, Paiulee, Piute, Sampitche, and Mono — Popular Belief as 
to the Aztec Element in the North— Grimm's Law — Shoshone, Co- 
manche, and Moqui Comparative Table — Netela Stanza — Kizh 
Grammar — The Lord's Prayer in two Dialects of the Kizh — Cheme- 
huevi and Cahuillo Grammar — Comparative Vocabulary CoO 



Traces of the Aztec not found among the Puehlos of New Mexico and 
Arizona — The Five Languages of the Pueblos, the Queres, the 
Tegua, the Picons, Jemez, and Zufii — Pueblo Comparative Vocabu- 
lary — The Yuma and its Dialects, the Maricopa, Cuchan, Mojave, 
Dieguefio, Yampais, and Yavipais — The Cochimi and Pericii, with 
their Dialects of Lower California — Guaicuri Grammar — Pater 
Noster in Three Cochimi Dialects — The Languages of Lower Cali- 
fornia wholly Isolated GSO 



Pima Alto and Bajo — Papago — Pima Grammar — Formation of Plurals 
— Personal Pronoun — Conjugation — Classification of Verbs — Ad- 
verbs — Prepositions, Conjunctions, and Interjections — Syntax of 
the Pima — Prayers in different dialects — The Opata and Eudeve — 
Eudeve Grammar — Conjugation of Active and Passive Verbs — 
Lord's Prayer — Opata Grammar — Declension — Possessive Pronoun 
— Conjugation — Ceri Language with its Dialects, Guaymi and Te- 
poca — Ceri Vocabulary C94 




The Cahita and its Dialects— Cahita Grammar— Dialectic Differences 
of the Mayo, Yaqui, and Tehiieco — Comparative Vocabulary — 
Cahita Lord's Prayer — The Tarahnmara and its Dialects— The 
Tarahumara Grammar — Tarahnmara Lord's Prayer in two Dialects 
— The Concho, the Toboso, the Julime, the Piro, the Snma, the 
Chinarra, the Tubar, the Irritila — Tejano — Tejano Grammar — 
Specimen of the Tejano — The Tepehuana — Tepchuana Grammar 
and Lord's Prayer— Acaxee. and its Dialects, the Topia, Sabaibo 
and Xixime — The Zacatec, Cazcane, Mazapile, Hnitcole, Guachi- 
chile, Colotlan, Tlaxomnltcc, Tecnexe, and Tepecano — The Cora 
and its Dialects, the Mmitzicat, Teacnaeitzca, and Ateacari — Cora 
Grammar 706 



Nahua or Aztec, Chichimec, and Toltec languages identical — Anahuac 
the aboriginal seat of the Aztec Tongue — The Aztec the oldest 
language in Anahuac — Beauty and Richness of the Aztec — Testi- 
mony of the Missionaries and early writers in its favor — Specimen 
from Paredes' Manual — Grammar of the Aztec Language — Aztec 
Lord's Prayer — The Otomi a Monosyllabic Language of Anahuac 
— Relationship claimed with the Chinese and Cherokee — Otomi 
Grammar — Otomi Lord's Prayer in Different Dialects 723 


The Pame and its Dialects— The Meco of Guanajuato and the Sierra 
Gordo — The Tarasco of Michoacan and its Grammar — The Matlal- 
tzinca and its Grammar — The Ocuiltec — The Miztec and its Dialects 
— Miztec Grammar— The Amusgo, Chocho, Mazatec, Cuicatec, Cha- 
tino, Tlapanec, Chinantec, and Popoluca — The Zapotec and its 
Grammar — The Mije — Mije Grammar and Lord's Prayer — The 
Huave of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec — Huave Numerals 74"2 



The Maya-Quiche, the Languages of the Civilized Nations of Central 
America — Enumeration of the Members of this Family — Hypothet- 
ical Analogies with Languages of the Old World — Lord's Prayers 
in the Chanabal, Chiapanec, Choi, Tzendal, Zoque, and Zotzil — 
Pokonchi Grammar— The Mame or Zaklopahkap — Quiche Gram- 
mar — Cakchiquel Lord's Prayer — Maya Grammar — Totonac Gram- 
mar — Totonac Dialects — Huastec Grammar 759 






The Carib an Imported Language — The Mosquito Language — The Poya, 
Towka, Seco, Valiente, Kama, Cookra, Woohva, and other Lan- 
guages in Honduras — The Chontal — Mosquito Grammar — Love 
Song in the Mosquito Language — Comparative Vocabulary of 
Honduras Tongues — The Coribici, Chorotega, Chontal, and Orotina 
in Nicaragua— Grammar of the Orotina or Nagrandan — Comparison 
between the Orotina and Chorotega — The Chiriqui, Guatuso, Tiri- 
bi, and others in Costa Rica — Talamanca Vocabulary — Diversity 
of Speech on the Isthmus of Darien — Enumeration of Languages 
— Comparative Vocabulary 782 







Difference between Man and Bbutes— Mind Language and Soul-Lan- 
guage — Origin of Language: A Gift of the Creator, a Human 
Invention, or an Evolution — Nature and A t alue of Myth — Origin of 
Myth: The Divine Idea, A Fiction of Sorcery, The Creation of a 
Designing Priesthood — Origin of Worship, of Prayer, of Sacrifice — 
Fetichism and the Origin of Animal -Worship — Religion and My- 

Hitherto we have beheld Man only in his material 
organism: as a wild though intellectual animal. We 
have watched the intercourse of uncultured mind with 
its environment. We have seen how, to clothe himself, 
the savage robs the beast; how, like animals, primitive 
man constructs his habitation, provides food, rears a 
family, exercises authority, holds property, wages war, 
indulges in amusements, gratifies social instincts; and 
that in all this, the savage is but one remove from the 
brute. Ascending the scale, we have examined the first 
stages of human progress and analyzed an incipient civ- 
ilization. AYe will now pass the frontier which separates 
mankind from animal-kind, and enter the domain of the 
immaterial and supernatural; phenomena which philos- 
ophy purely positive cannot explain. 

Vol. III. 1 


The primary indication of an absolute superiority in 
man over other animals is the faculty of speech; not 
those mute or vocal symbols, expressive of passion and 
emotion, displayed alike in brutes and men; but the 
power to separate ideas, to generate in the mind and 
embody in words, sequences of thought. True, upon the 
threshold of this inquiry, as in whatever relates to 
primitive man, we find the brute creation hotly pursuing, 
and disputing for a share in this progressional power. 
In common with man, animals possess all the organs of 
sensation. They see, hear, feel, taste, and smell. They 
have even the organs of speech; but they have not 
speech. The source of this wonderful faculty lies further 
back, obscured by the mists which ever settle round the 
immaterial. AVhether brutes have souls, according to 
the Aristotelean theory of soul, or whether brute-soul is 
immortal, or of quality and destiny unlike and inferior 
to that of man-soul, we see in them unmistakable evi- 
dence of mental faculties. The higher order of animals 
possess the lower order of intellectual perceptions. Thus 
pride is manifested by the caparisoned horse, shame by 
the beaten dog, will by the stubborn mule. Brutes 
have memory; they manifest love and hate, joy and 
sorrow r , gratitude and revenge. They are courageous or 
cowardly, subtle or simple, not merely up to the meas- 
ure of what w T e commonly term instinct, but with evi- 
dent exercise of judgment; and, to a certain point, we 
might even claim for them foresight, as in laying in a 
store of food for winter. But with all this there seems 
to be a lack of true or connected thought, and of the fac- 
ulty of abstraction, whereby conceptions are analyzed 
and impressions defined. 

They have also a language, such as it is; indeed, all 
the varieties of language common to man. 'What ges- 
ture-language can be more expressive than that employed 
by the horse with its ears and by the dog with its tail, 
wherein are manifestations of every shade of joy, sor- 
row, courage, fear, shame, and anger? In their brutish 
physiognomy, also, one may read the language of the 


emotions, which, if not so delicately pictured as in the 
face of man, is none the less distinctive. Nor are they 
without their vocal language. Every fowl and every 
quadruped possesses the power of communicating intelli- 
gence by means of the voice. They have their noise of 
gladness, their signal cry of danger, their notes of 
anger and of woe. Thus we see in brutes not only in- 
telligence but the power of communicating intelligence. 
But intelligence is not thought, neither is expression 
speech. The language of brutes, like themselves, is soul- 

The next indication of man's superiority over brutes, is 
the faculty of worship. The wild beast, to escape the 
storm, flies howling to its den ; the savage, awe-stricken, 
turns and prays. The lowest man perceives a hand be- 
hind the lightning, hears a voice abroad upon the storm, 
for which the highest brute has neither eye nor ear. This 
essential of humanity we see primordially displayed in 
mythic phenomena; in the first struggle of spiritual man- 
hood to find expression. Language is symbol significant 
of thought, mythology is symbol significant of soul. The 
one is the first distinctive sound that separates the ideal 
from the material, the other the first respiration of the 
soul which distinguishes the immortal from the animal. 
Language is thought incarnate ; mythology, soul incar- ; 
nate. The one is the instrument of thought, as the other 
is the essence of thought. Neither is thought ; both are 
closely akin to thought; separated from either, in some 
form, perfect intellectual manhood cannot develop. I 
do not mean to say with some, that thought without 
speech cannot exist ; unless by speech is meant any form 
of expression symbolical, emotional, or vocal, or unless 
by thought is meant something more than mere self- 
consciousness without sequence and without abstraction. 
There can be no doubt that speech is the living breath 
of thought, and that the exercise of speech reacts upon 
the mental and emotional faculties. In brutes is found 
neither speech nor myth; in the deaf and dumb, thought 
and belief are shadowy and undefined; in infants, 


thought is but as a fleeting cloud passing over the brain. 
Yet for all this, deaf mutes and children who have no 
adequate form of expression cannot be placed in the cate- 
gory of brutes. The invention of the finger-alphabet 
opened a way to the understanding of the deaf and dumb ; 
but long before this is learned, in every instance, these 
unfortunates invent a gesture-language of their own, in 
which they think as well as speak. And could we but see 
the strangely contorted imagery which takes possession 
of a gesture-thinker's brain, we should better appreciate 
the value of words. So, into the mouth of children 
words are put, round which thoughts coalesce; but evi- 
dences of ideas are discovered some time before they can 
be fully expressed by signs or sounds. Kant held the 
opinion that the mind of a deaf mute is incapable of 
development, but the wonderful success of our modern 
institutions lias dissipated forever that idea. 

The soul of man is a half-conscious inspiration from 
which perception and expression are inseparable. Na- 
ture speaks to it in that subtle sympathy by which the 
immaterial within holds converse with the immaterial 
without, in the soft whisperings of the breeze, in the 
fearful bellowings of the tempest. Between the soul 
and body there is the closest sympathy, an interaction in 
every relation. Therefore these voices of nature speak- 
ing to nature's offspring, are answered back in various 
ways according to the various organisms addressed. The 
animal, the intellectual, the spiritual, whatsoever the 
entity consists of, responds, and responding expands and 
unfolds. Once give an animal the power to speak and 
mental development ensues; for speech cannot continue 
without ideas, and ideas cannot spring up without intel- 
lectual evolution. A dim. half-conscious, brutish thought 
there may be; but the faculty of abstraction, sequences 
of thought, without words either spoken or unspoken, 
cannot exist. 

It is not at all probable that a system of gesture-lan- 
guage was ever employed by any primitive people, prior 
or in preference to vocal language. To communicate by 


signs requires no little skill and implies a degree of arti- 
fice and forethought far beyond that required in vocal 
or emotional language. Long before a child arrives at 
the point of intelligence necessary for conveying thought 
by signs, it is well advanced in a vocal language of its 

In mythology, language assumes personality and inde- 
pendence. Often the significance of the word becomes 
the essential idea. Zeus, from meaning simply sky, be- 
comes god of the sky ; Los, originally the dawn, is made 
the goddess of the opening day. Not the idea but the 
expression of the idea becomes the deity. And so, by 
these creations of fancy, the imagination expands; in 
the embodiment of the idea, the mind enlarges with its 
own creation. Then yet bolder metaphors are thrown 
off like soap-bubbles, which no sooner take form in 
words than they are also deified. Thus soul and thought 
and speech act and react on one another, all the evolu- 
tions of conception seeking vent in sound or speculation ; 
and thus language, the expression of mind, and mythol- 
ogy, the expression of soul, become the exponents of 
divine humanity. 

But what then is Language, what is Myth, and whence 
are they? Broadly, the term language may be ap- 
plied to whatever social beings employ to communi- 
cate passion or sentiment, or to influence one another ; 
whatever is made a vehicle of intelligence, ideographic 
or phonetic, is language. In this category may be placed, 
as we have seen, gestures, both instinctive and artificial ; 
emotional expression, displayed in form or feature ; vocal 
sounds, such as the cries of birds, the howling of beasts. 
Indeed, language is everywhere, in everything. While 
listening to the rippling brook, the roaring sea, the mur- 
muring forest, as well as to the still small voice within, 
we are but reading from the vocabulary of nature. 

Thus construed, the principle assumes a variety 
of shapes, and may be followed through successive 
stages of development. In fact, neither form nor feature 
can be set in motion, or even left in a state of repose, 


without conveying intelligence to the observer. The 
countenance of man, whether it will or not, perpetually 
speaks, and speaks in most exquisite shades of signifi- 
cance, and with expression far more delicate than that 
employed by tongue or pen. The face is the reflex of 
the soul ; a transparency which glows with light, divine 
or devilish, thrown upon it from within. It is a por- 
trait of individual intelligence, a photograph of the inner 
being, a measure of innate intelligence. And in all 
pertaining to the actions and passions of mankind, what 
can be more expressive than the language of the emo- 
tions? There are the soft, silent wooings of love, the 
frantic fury of hate, the dancing delirium of joy, the 
hungry cravings of desire, the settled melancholy of dead 
hopes. But more definitely, language is articulate 
human speech or symbolic expression of ideas. 

How man first learned to speak, and whence the power 
of speech was originally derived, are questions concern- 
ing which tradition is uncommunicative. Even mythol- 
ogy, which attempts the solution of supernatural mys- 
teries, the explanation of all phenomena not otherwise 
accounted for, has little to say as to the genesis of this 
most potential of all human powers. 

Many theories have been advanced concerning the 
origin of language. Some of them are exploded ; others 
in various stages of modification remain, no two phi- 
lologists thinking exactly alike. The main hypotheses 
are three; the subordinate ones are legion. Obvious- 
ly, speech must be either a direct, completed gift of the 
Creator, with one or more independent beginnings; or a 
human invention; or an evolution from a natural germ. 

Schleicher conceives primordial language to be a sim- 
ple organism of vocal gestures; Gould Brown believes 
language to be partly natural and partly artificial; Adam 
Smith and Dugald Stewart give to man the creation and 
development of speech by his own artificial invention. 
According to Heroditus. the Phrygians and the Egyptians 
disputed over the question of the antiquity of their lan- 
guages. Psammetichus thereupon confided two babes to 


the care of goats, apart from every human sound. At 
the end of two years they were heard to pronounce the 
word bekos, the Phr3 7 gian for bread. The Phrygians 
therefore claimed for their language the seniority. 

In ancient times it was thought that there was some 
one primeval tongue, a central language from which all 
the languages of the earth radiated. The Sythic, 
Ethiopic, Chinese, Greek, Latin, and other languages 
advanced claims for this seniority. Plato believed lan- 
guage to be an invention of the gods, and by them given 
to man. Orthodox religionists did not hesitate to affirm 
that Hebrew, the language of Paradise, was not only 
given in a perfected state to man, but was miraculously 
preserved in a state of purity for the chosen Israel. 
After the dispersion from Babel, such nations as relapsed 
into barbarism becanio barbaric in speech. And in the 
roots of every dialect of both the old world and the 
new, the Fathers were able to discern Hebrew analogies 
sufficient to confirm them in their dogma. Indeed other 
belief was heresy. 

There were others who held that, when gesture-lan- 
guage and the language of the emotions were found 
insufficient for the growing necessities of man, by com- 
mon consent, it was agreed that certain objects should be 
represented by certain sounds, and that so, when a word 
had been invented for every object, language was made. 

Another doctrine, called by Mr. Wedgwood, its enthu- 
siastic advocate, 'onomatopoeia,' and by Professor Max 
Muller the 'bow-wow' theory, explains the origin of 
language in the effort of man to imitate the cries of 
nature. Thus, for dog the primitive languageless man 
would say bow-wow; to the rivulet, the wind, the birds 
and beasts, names were applied which as far as possible 
were but reproductions of the sounds made by these ele- 
ments or animals. 

Thus philology up to a comparatively late period was 
a speculation rather than a science. Philosophers sought 
to know whence lamnia^e came rather than what Ian- 
guage is. But when the great discovery concerning the 


Arum and Semitic families was made, comparative 
philologists went to work after the manner of practical 
investigators in other branches of study, by collecting, 
classifying and comparing vocabularies, and there- 
from striking out a path backward to original trunks. 
Catalogues of languages were published, one in 1800 by 
liervas, a Spanish Jesuit, containing three hundred dia- 
lects, followed by Adelung and Vaters Mithridates, from 
1800-17. But not until Sanscrit was made a subject of 
European study did it become apparent that affinities of 
tongues are subject to the laws that govern affinities 
of blood. Then it was that a similarity was discovered, 
not only between the Sanscrit and the Greek and Latin 
tongues, but between these languages and the Teutonic, 

~ 7 CO 7 

Celtic, Iranic, and Indie, all of which became united in 
the great Arian family. At the same time, the ancient 
language of the Jews, the Arabic, and the Aramaic — 
which constitute the Semitic family — were found to be 
totally different from the Arian in their radical struc- 
ture. From these investigations, philologists were no 
less convinced that the Indo-European languages were 
all of the same stock, than that the Semitic idioms did 
not belong to it. The doctrine of the Fathers therefore 
would not stand; for it was found that all languages 
were not derivations from the Hebrew, nor from any 
other known central tomrue. 

Then too, the subordination of tongues to the laws of 
evolution became apparent. It was discovered that lan- 
guage was in a state of constant change ; that, with all 

~ ~ O 7 

its variations, human speech could be grouped into fami- 
lies, and degrees of relationship ascertained ; and that, by 
the comparison of vocabularies, a classification at once 
morphological and genealogical could be made. Varieties 
of tongues, as numberless as the phases of humanity, 
could be traced back towards their beginnings and resolved 
into earlier forms. It was discovered that in the first 
order of linguistic development, words are monosyllabic. 
In this rudimentary stage, to which the Chinese, Tibetan, 
and perhaps the Japanese belong, roots, or sounds ex- 


pressive only of the material or substantial parts of 
things, are used. In the second stage, called the poly- 
synthetic, aggregative, or agglutinate, a modifying ter- 
mination, significant of the relations of ideas or things 
to each other, is affixed or glued to the root. To the 
agglutinate languages belong the American and Tura- 
nian families. In the third, called the inflectional 
stage, which comprises only the Arian and Semitic fami- 
lies, the two elements are more perfectly developed, and 
it is only in this stage that language can attain the 
highest degree of richness and refinement. 

While these stages or conditions are recognized by all, 
it is claimed on one side that although settled languages 
retain their grammatical character, every agglutinate 
language must once have been monosyllabic, or radical, 
and every inflectional language once agglutinate ; and on 
the other side it is averred that the assertion is incapable 
of proof, for no historical evidence exists of any one 
type ever having passed from one of these stages to 
another. . Now if speech is a perfected gift of the Crea- 
tor, how happens it that we find language in every stage 
of development or relapse, from the duckings of Thlin- 
keets to the classic lines of Homer and of Shakspeare ? | 
In his physiological structure, so far as is known, Man is 
neither more nor less perfect now than in the days of 
Adam. How then if language is an organism, is it, mi- ' 
like other organisms, subject to extreme and sudden 
change? In animated nature there are two principles; 
one fixed and finished as an organism, subject to per- 
petual birth and decay, but incapable of advancing or 
retrograding; the other, elemental life, the germ or cen- 
tre of a future development. The one grows, the other 
unfolds. We have no evidence that instincts and 
organic functions were more or less perfect in the be- 
ginning than now. If therefore Iaii2;ua2;e is an instinct 
or an organism, a perfect gift of the Creator, how can it 
exist otherwise than in a concrete and perfect state like 
other instincts and organisms? 

The absurdity that human speech is the invention of 


primitive man — that upon some grassy knoll a company 
of half-clad barbarians met, and without words invented 
words, without significant sounds produced sounds sig- 
nificant of every object, therein by mutual consent 
originating a language — may be set aside. Of all con- 
jectures concerning the origin of language, the hypothesis 
that words are an artificial invention is the least tenable. 
And what is most surprising to us, at the present day, 
is that such men as Locke and Adam Smith and Dugald 
Stewart could for a moment have entertained the idea. 
Obviously, without language there could be no culture, 
and without culture, words never could have been in- 
vented. Words are the symbols of objects and ideas. 
Certain words may be arbitrarily selected, and, by the 
tacit agreement or general concurrence of society, may 
be made to signify certain things. And in this sense 
words may originate conventionally. But though words 
may have been conventionally selected, they were never 
selected by conventions. AVe then have the discoveries 
of modern philologists, not only to positively deny the 
infallibility of the common-origin theory, but to bring 
forward a number of other claimants for the greatest 
antiquity, as well entitled to a hearing as the Hebrew. 

Diversity in the origin of speech does not of necessity 
imply diversity in the origin of race. Thus with a 
unity of race, circumstances may be conceived in 
which independent tongues may have arisen in different 
localities ; whereas with a diversity of race, but one lan- 
guage hypothetically may have oeen given to all. .V 
common origin is probable, a diversity of origin is pos- 
sible; neither can be proved or disproved. The radical 
differences in the structure of the three great types, the 
monosyllabic, the agglutinate, and the inflectional; and 
the inherent heterogeneities of the several families of the 
same type, as of the Chinese and Siamese, of the American 
and Turanian, or even of the Arian and Semitic, would 
seem to present insurmountable obstacles to the theory 
of a common origin ; while on the other hand the won- 
derful mutations of types and trunks, the known trans- 


formations of language, and the identifications by some 
philologists, of the same stock in each of the three pro- 
gressional stages, render the theory of a unity of ori- 
gin in language equally probable. Therefore the ques- 
tion of unity or diversity of tongues, as we speak of 
unity or diversity of race, can be of but little moment 
to us. Language shows the connection between nations 
widely separated, leads us back beyond tradition into 
the obscure past, follows the sinuosities of migrations, 
indicates epochs in human development, points towards 
the origin of peoples, serves as a guide in following the 
radiation of races from common centres. Yet a simi- 
larity in the sound, or even in the construction of two 
words, does not necessarily imply relationship. Two 
totally distinct languages may have borrowed the same 
word from a third language; which fact would never 
establish relationship between the borrowers: When 
like forms are found in different languages, in order 
to establish a relationship, historical evidence must be 
applied as a test, and the words followed up to their 

Stripped of technicalities, the question before us is 
reduced to a few simple propositions. All men speak ; 
there never yet was found a nation without articulate 
language. Aside from individual and abnormal excep- 
tions, no primitive tribe has ever been discovered, where 
part of the people spoke, and part were speechless. Lan- 
guage is as much a part of man, as any physical con- 
stituent; yet unlike physical organs, as the eye, the ear, 
the hand, language is not born with the individual. It 
is not in the blood. The Caucasian infant stolen by 
Apaches, cannot converse with its own mother when 
restored to her a few years after. 

Therefore speech is not an independent, perfected gift 
of the Creator, but an incidental acquirement. Further- 
more language is an attribute of society. It belongs to 
the people and not to the individual. The child before 
mentioned, if dropped by the Apaches among the bears 
and by them nurtured and reared, is doomed to mutism 


or bear-language. Man was made a social being ; speech 
was made as a means of communicating intelligence be- 
tween social beings; one individual alone never could 
originate, or even preserve a language. 

But how then happens it, if man did not make it, and 
God did not give it him, that human speech is universal? 
With the organism of man the Creator implants the 
organs of speech. With the elemental and progressional 
life of man the Creator implants the germ of speech. 
In common with the element of progress and civilization, 
iixiiate from the beginning, speech has developed by slow 
degrees through thousands of cycles and by various stages, 
inarching steadily forward with the forward march of 
the intellect. Comparative philology, in common with 
all other sciences, accords to man a remote antiquity. 
Bunsen estimates that at least twenty thousand jears are 
required for a language to pass from one rudimentary 
stage to another. 

The mind receives impressions and the soul intuitions, 
and to throw them off in some form is an absolute neces- 
sity. Painful impressions tend to produce bodily contor- 
tions and dolorous sounds; pleasant impressions to illu- 
mine the features and to make musical the voice. And 
not only is this compressed emotion destined to find ex- 
pression, but to impress itself upon others. Emotion is 
essentially sympathetic. Why certain objects are repre- 
sented by certain sounds we can never know. Some 
think that between every word and the object or idea 
which it represents, there was in the first instance an 
intimate relationship. By degrees certain natural ar- 
ticulations became associated with certain ideas; then 
new names were suggested by some fancied analogy to 
objects already named. Everything else being equal, 
similar conditions and causations produce similar im- 
pressions and are expressed by similar sounds. Hence a 
certain uniformity between all human tongues; and a ten- 
dency in man to imitate the sounds in nature, the cries 
of animals, the melodies of winds and waters, accounts 
for the origin of man}' words. 


From giving expression in some outward form to our 
inward emotion there is no escape. Let us now apply 
to the expression of feeling and emotion the same law 
of evolution which governs all social and intellectual 
phenomena, and from a language of exclamations, we 
have first the monosyllabic noun and verb, then auxi- 
liaries, — adverbs, adjectives, prepositions and pro- 
nouns, — and finally inflections of parts of speech by 
which the finer shades of meaning may be expressed. 
The spontaneous 'outbursts of feeling, or the meta- 
phorical expressions of emotion, arising instinctively 
and acting almost simultaneously with the conception 
or impression made upon the mind, develop with time 
into settled forms of speech. Man speaks as birds 
fly or fishes swim. The Creator supplies the organs 
and implants the instinct. Speech, though intuitive, 
is more than intuition; for, as we have seen, speech 
is a social rather than an individual attribute. Dar- 
win perceives in language not only a spontaneous gen- 
eration, but a natural selection of grammatical forms; 
the best words, the clearest and shortest expressions, 
continually displacing the weaker. So words are made 
to fit occasions, and dropped as soon as better ones can 
be found. 

Languages are not inherited, yet language is an in- 
heritance. Language is not artificially invented, yet 
languages are but conventional agreements. Languages 
are not a concrete perfected gift of the Creator, yet the 
germ of language is ineradicably implanted in man, and 
was there implanted by none but man's Creator. This 
then is Language: it is an acquisition, but an acquisi- 
tion from necessity; it is a gift, but, when given, an 
undeveloped germ; it is an artifice, in so far as it is 
developed by the application of individual agencies. 

Here, for a while, we will leave Language and turn 
to Mythology, the mytlws 'fable' and logos L speech' of 
the Grecians. 

L nder analysis mythology is open to broad yet sig- 


nificant interpretations. As made up of legendary ac- 
counts of places and personages, it is history ; as relating 
to the genesis of the gods, the nature and adventures 
of divinities, it is religion; placed in the category of 
science, it is the science of fable; of philosophy, the 
philosophy of intuitive beliefs. A mass of fragmentary 
truth and fiction not open to rationalistic criticism; a 
system of tradition, genealogical and political, confound- 
ing the subjective with the objective ; a partition wall of 
allegories, built of dead facts cemented with wild fan- 
cies, — it looms ever between the immeasurable and the 
measurable past. 

Thick black clouds, portentous of evil, hang threaten- 
ingly over the savage during his entire life. Genii 
murmur in the flowing river, in the rustling branches 
are felt the breathings of the gods, goblins dance in 
vapory twilight, and demons howl in the darkness. 

In the myths of wild, untutored man, is displajed 
that inherent desire to account for the origin of things, 
which, even at the present time, commands the pro- 
foundest attention of philosophy; and, as we look back 
upon the absurd conceptions of our savage ancestry with 
feelings akin to pity and disgust, so may the speculations 
of our own times appear to those who shall come after us. 
Those weird tales which to us are puerility or poetry, ac- 
cording as we please to regard them, were to their believ- 
ers history, science, and religion. Yet this effort, which 
continues from the beginning to the end, is not valueless; 

~ O 7 7 

in it is embodied the soul of human progress. Without 
mythology, the only door at once to the ideal and inner 
life of primitive peoples and to their heroic and historic 
past would be forever closed to us. Nothing so reflects 
their heart-secrets, exposes to our view their springs of 
action, shadows forth the sources of their hopes and 
fears, exhibits the models after which they moulded 
their lives. 

Within crude poetic imagery are enrolled their re- 
ligious beliefs, are laid the foundations of their sj'stems 
of worship, are portrajed their thoughts concerning 


causations and the destinies of mankind. Under sym- 
bolic veils is shrouded their ancient national spirit, all 
that can be known of their early history and popular 
ideas. Thus are explained the fundamental laws of na- 
ture ; thus we are told how earth sprang from chaos, how 
men and beasts and plants w T ere made, how heaven was 
peopled, and earth, and what were the relative powers 
and successive dynasties of the gods. Heroes are made 
gods ; gods are materialized and brought down to men. 

Of the value of 'mythology it is unnecessary here to 
speak. Never was there a time in the history of phi- 
losophy when the character, customs, and beliefs of 
aboriginal man, and everything appertaining to him, were 
held in such high esteem by scholars as at present. As 
the ultimate of human knowledge is approached, the in- 
quirer is thrown back upon the past ; and more and more 
the fact becomes apparent, that what is, is but a re- 
production of what has been; that in the earlier stages 
of human development may be found the counterpart of 
every phase of modern social life. Higher and more 
heterogeneous as are our present systems of politics and 
philosophy, every principle, when tracked to its begin- 
ning, proves to have been evolved, not originated. 

As there never yet was found a people without a lan- 
guage, so every nation has its mythology, some popular 
and attractive form for preserving historical tradition 
and presenting ethical maxims; and as by the range 
of their vocabularies we may follow men through all 
the stages of their progress in government, domestic 
affairs and mechanical arts, so, by beliefs expressed, we 
may determine at any given epoch in the history of a 
race their ideal and intellectual condition. "Without the 
substance there can be no shadow, without the object 
there can be no name for it; therefore when we find a 
language without a word to denote property or chastity, 
we may be sure that the wealth and women of the tribe 
are held in common ; and when in a system of mythology 
certain important metaphysical or aesthetic ideas and at- 
tributes are wanting, it is evident that the intellect of 


its composers has not yet reached beyond a certain low 
point of conception. 

Moreover, as in things evil may be found a spirit 
of good, so in fable we find an element of truth. 
It is now a recognized principle of philosophy, that no 
religious belief, however crude, nor any historical tra- 
dition, however absurd, can be held by the majority of a 
people for any considerable time as true, without having 
in the beginning some foundation in fact. More espe- 
cially is the truth of this principle apparent when we 
consider that in all the multitudinous beliefs of all ages, 
held by peoples savage and civilized, there exist a con- 
currence of ideas and a coincidence of opinion. Human 
conceptions of supernatural affairs spring from like intui- 
tions. As human nature is essentially the same through- 
out the world and throughout time, so the religious 
instincts which form a part of that universal humanity 
generate and develop in like manner under like con- 
ditions. The desire to penetrate hidden surroundings 
and the method of attempting it are to a certain extent 
common to all. All wonder at the mysterious; all 
attempt the solution of mysteries; all primarily possess 
equal facilities for arriving at correct conclusions. The 
genesis of belief is uniform, and the results under like 
conditions analogous. 

We may conclude that the purposes for which these 
fictitious narratives were so carefully preserved and 
handed down to posterity were two-fold, — to keep alive 
certain facts and to inculcate certain doctrines. 

Something there must have been in every legend, in 
every tradition, in every belief, which has ever been en- 
tertained by the majority of a people, to recommend it 
to the minds of men in the first instance. Error abso- 
lute cannot exist; false doctrine without an amalgam of 
verity speedily crumbles, and the more monstrous the 
falsity the more rapid its decomposition. Myths were 
the oracles of our savage ancestors; their creed, the rule 
of their life, prized by them as men now prize their 
faith; and, by whatever savage philosophy these strange 


conceits were eliminated, their effect upon the popular 
mind was vital. Anaxagoras, Socrates, Protagoras, and 
Epicurus well knew and boldly proclaimed that the 
gods of the Grecians were disreputable characters, not 
the kind of deities to make or govern worlds; yet so 
deep rooted in the hearts of the people were the maxims 
of the past, that for these expressions one heretic was 
cast into prison, another expelled from Athens, and 
another forced to drink the hemlock. And the less 
a fable presents the 'appearance of probability, the more 
grotesque and extravagant it is, the less the likelihood 
of its having originated in pure invention; for no ex- 
travagantly absurd invention without a particle of truth 
could by any possibility have been palmed off upon a 
people, and by them accepted, revered, recited, preserved 
as veritable incident or solution of mystery, and handed 
down to those most dear to them, to be in like manner 
held as sacred. 

Therefore we may be sure that there never was a 
myth without a meaning; that mythology is not a bun- 
dle of ridiculous fancies invented for vulgar amusement; 
that there is not one of these stories, no matter how 
silly or absurd, which was not founded in fact, which did 
not once hold a significance. "And though I have well 
weighed and considered all this, ".concluded Lord Bacon, 
nearly three hundred years ago, "and thoroughly seen 
into the levity which the mind indulges for allegories 
and illusions, vet I cannot but retain a high value for 

7 «/ C 

the ancient mytholog}\" Indeed, to ancient myths has 
been attributed the preservation of shattered fragments 
of lost sciences, even as some have alleged that we are 
indebted to the writings of Democritus and Aristotle for 
modern geographical discoveries. 

That these ductile narratives have suffered in their 
transmission to us, that through the magnifying and 
refracting influences of time, and the ignorance and 
fanaticism of those to whom they were first recited, we 
receive them mutilated and distorted, there can be no 
doubt. Xot one in a thousand of those aboriginal 

Vol. III. 2 <- 


beliefs which were held by the people of the Pacific 
Coast at the time of its first occupation by foreigners, 
has been preserved. And for the originality and 
purity of such as we have, in many instances, no one 
can vouch. Certain writers who saw in the native 
fable probable evidence of the presence of an apostle, or 
a miraculous interposition in the affairs of benighted 
heathendom, could but render the narrative in accord- 
ance with their prepossessions. The desire of some to 
prove a certain origin for the Indians, and the contempt 
of others for native character, also led to imperfect or 
colored narrations. But happily, enough has been pre- 
served in authentic picture-writings, and by narrators 
whose integrity and intelligence are above suspicion, to 
give us a fair insight into the native j)sychological struc- 
ture and belief; and if the knowledge we have is but in- 
finitesimal in comparison with what has been lost, we 
may thereby learn to prize more highly such as we have. 
Again we come to the ever -recurring question — 
Whence is it? Vs hence arise belief, worship, supersti- 
tion? Whence the striking likeness in all supernatural 
conceptions between nations and ages the most diverge? 
Why is it that so many peoples, during the successive 
stages of their progress, have their creation myth, their 
origin myth, their Hood myth, their animal, and plant, 
and planet myths? This coincidence of evolution can 
scarcely be the result of accident. Mythologies, then, 
being like languages common to mankind, uniform in 
substance yet varying in detail, what follows with re- 
gard to the essential system of their supernatural con- 
ceptions? Is it a perfected gift of the Creator, the 
invention of a designing priesthood, or a spontaneous 
generation and natural development? So broad a ques- 
tion, involving as it does the weightiest matters con- 
nected with man, may scarcely expect exactly the same 
answer from any two persons. Origin of life, origin of 
mind, origin of belief, are as much problems to the 
profoundest philosopher of to-day, as they were to the 
first wondering, bewildered savage who wandered 
through primeval forests. 


Life is defined by Herbert Spencer as "the coordina- 
tion of actions, or their continuous adjustment;" by 
Lewes as "a series of definite and successive changes, 
both of structure and composition, which take place 
within an individual witbout destroying its identity ; " 
by Schelling as "the tendency to individuation;" by 
Richeraud as a a collection of phenomena which succeed 
each other during a limited time in an organized body;" 
and by De Blainville as "the two-fold internal movement 
of composition and decomposition, at once general and 
continuous." According to Hume, Mind is but a bundle 
of ideas and impressions which are the sum of all knowl- 
edge, and consequently, "the only things known to exist," 
In the positive philosophy of Auguste Comte, intel- 
lectual development is divided into three phases; namely, 
the Supernatural, in which the mind seeks for super- 
natural causes; the Metaphysical, wherein abstract 
forces are set up in place of supernatural agencies ; and 
the Positive, which inquires into the laws which engender 
phenomena. Martineau, commenting upon intuition and 
the mind's place in nature, charges the current doctrine of 
evolution with excluding the element of life from devel- 
oping organisms. Until the origin of mind, and the rela- 
tion of mind to its environment is determined, the origin 
of the supernatural must remain unaccounted for. Yet we 
may follow the principle of worship back to very near 
its source, if we are unable entirely to account for it. 

We have seen how the inability of brutes to form in 
the mind long sequences of thought, prevents speech ; 
so, in primitive societies, when successions of unrecorded 
events are forgotten before any conception of general 
laws can be formed therefrom, polytheism in its grossest 
form is sure to prevail. Not until the earlier stages of 
progress are passed, and, from a multitude of correlative 
and oft-repeated experiences, general deductions made, 
can there be any higher religious conceptions than that 
of an independent cause for every consequence. 

By some it is alleged that the religious sentiment is a 
divine idea perfected by the Creator and implanted in 


man as part of his nature, before his divergence from 
a primitive centre. Singularly enough, the Fathers of 
the Church referred the origin of fable as well as the 
origin of fact to the Hebrew Scriptures. Supported by 
the soundest sophistry, they saw in every myth, Grecian 
or barbarian, a biblical character. Thus the Greek 
Hercules was none other than the Hebrew Sampson; 
Arion was Jonah, and Deucalion Noah. Other mytho- 
logical characters were supposed by them to have been 
incarnated fiends, who disappeared after working for a 
time their evil upon men. 

There have been those who held nryths to be the 
fictions of sorcery, as there are now those who believe 
that forms of worship were invented by a designing 
priesthood, or that mythology is but a collection of tales, 
physical, ethical and historical, invented by the sages 
and ancient wise men of the nation, for the purpose of 
overawing the wicked and encouraging the good. Some 
declare that religion is a factitious or accidental social 
phenomenon ; others that it is an aggregation of organ- 
ized human experiences; others that it is a bundle of 
sentiments which were originally projected by the im- 
agination, and ultimately adopted as entities; others 
that it is a feeling or emotion, the genesis of which is 
due to surrounding circumstances. 

Many believe all 1113* thological personages to have been 
once real human heroes, the foundations of whose his- 
tories were laid in truth, while the structure was reared 
by fancy. The Egyptians informed Herodotus that their 
deities — the last of whom was Orus son of Osiris, the 
Apollo of the Grecians — were originally their kings. 
Others affirm that myths are but symbolic ideas deified ; 
that they are but the embodiment of a maxim in the 
form of an allegory, and that under these allegorical 
forms were taught history, religion, law and morality. 

Intermingled with all these hypotheses are elements 
of truth, and yet none of them appear to be satisfying 
explanations. All imply that religion, in some form, is 
an essential constituent of humanity, and that whatever 


its origin end functions, it has exercised from the earliest 
ages and does yet exercise the most powerful influence 
upon man ; working like leaven in the lump, keeping 
the world in a ferment, stirring up men to action, band- 
ing and disrupting nations, uniting and dividing com- 
munities, and forming the nucleus of numberless socie- 
ties and institutions. 

In every society, small and great, there are undoubt- 
edly certain intellects of quicker than ordinary percep- 
tion, which seize upon occasions, and by a skillful use 
of means obtain a mastery over inferior minds. It is 
thus that political and social, as well as ecclesiastical 
power arises. IS r ot that the leader creates a want — he 
is but the mouth-piece or agent of pent-up human in- 
stincts. One of these instincts is dependence. That 
w T e are created subordinate, not absolute nor unre- 
strained, is a fact from which none can escape. Thral- 
dom, constant and insurmountable, w r e feel we have 
inherited. Most naturally, therefore, the masses of 
mankind seek from among their fellows some embodi- 
ment of power, and ranging themselves under the ban- 
ner of leaders, follow blindly whithersoever they are 
led. Perceiving the power thus placed in their hands, 
these born leaders of men are not slow to invent means 
for retaining and increasing it. To the inquiry of the 
child or unsophisticated savage, who, startled by a peal 
of distant thunder, cries, "What is that?" the explana- 
tion is given: "That is the storm-god speaking." "I 
am afraid, protect me!" implores the supplicant. "I 
will, only obey," is the reply. The answer is sufficient, 
curiosity is satisfied, and terror allayed; the barbarian 
teacher gains a devotee. In this manner, the super- 
structure of creeds, witchcrafts, priestcrafts, may have 
arisen ; some gods may thus have been made, forms of 
worship invented, and intercourse opened with beings 
supernal and infernal. Then devotion advances and 
becomes an art; professors by practice become experts. 
Meanwhile, craft is economized; the wary Shaman rain- 
doctor — like the worthy clergyman of civilized ortho- 


doxy, who refused to pray for rain "while the wind 
was in that quarter'' — watches well the gathering ripe- 
ness of the cloud before he attempts to burst it with an 
arrow. And in the end, a more than ordinary skill in 
the exercise of this power, deifies or demonizes the 

But whence arises the necessity for craft and whence 
the craft? The faculty of invention implies skill. Skill 
successfully to play upon the instincts of humanity can 
only be acquired through the medium of like instincts, 
and although the skill be empirical, the play must be 
natural. Craft alone will not suffice to satisfy the de- 
sire ; the hook must be baited with some small element 
of truth before the most credulous will seize it. If 
religious beliefs are the fruits of invention, how shall 
we account for the strange coincidences of thouirht 
and worship which prevail throughout all myths and 
cults? "Why is it that all men of every age, in 
conditions diverse, and in countries widely sundered, 
are found searching out the same essential facts? All 
worship; nearly all have their creation-myth, their 
flood-myth, their theory of origin, of distribution from 
primitive centres, and of a future state. In this regard 
as in many another, civilization is but an evolution of 
savagism; for almost every principle of modern phi- 
losophy there may be found in primitive times its 

The nature and order of supernatural conceptions are 
essentially as follows: The first and rudest form of be- 
lief is Fetichism, which invests every phenomenon with 
an independent personality. In the sunshine, fire, and 
water, in the wind and rock and stream, in every 
animal, bird, and plant, there is a separate deity; for 
every effect there is a cause, Even Kepler, whose in- 
tellect could track the planets in their orbits, must needs 
assume a guiding spirit for every world. It is impos- 
sible for the mind to conceive of self-creative or self- 
existent forces. 

In time the personalities of the fetich-worshiper be- 


come to some extent generalized. Homogeneous appear- 
ances are grouped into classes, and each class referred 
to a separate deity, and hence Polytheism. Pantheism 
then comes in and makes all created substance one with 
the creator ; nature and the universe are God. From the 
impersonating of the forces of nature to the creation of 
imaginary deities there is hut a step. Every virtue and 
vice, every good and evil becomes a personality, under 
the direct governance of which lie certain passions and 
events ; and thus in place of one god for many individ- 
uals, each individual may have a multitude of his own 
personal gods. The theogony of Ilesiod was but a sys- 
tem of materialized love and hate ; while, on the other 
hand, the gods of Homer, although personating human 
passions, were likewise endowed with moral perceptions. 
In them the blind forces of nature are lighted up into a 
human-divine intelligence. 

In Monotheism the distinct personalities, which to the 
savage underlie every appearance, become wholly gen- 
eralized, and the origin of all phenomena is referred to 
one First Cause. The subtle and philosophic G reeks 
well knew that God to be God must be omnipotent, and 
omnipotence is indivisible. That the Aztecs could be- 
lieve and practice the absurdities they did is less an ob- 
ject of wonder, than that the intellectual philosophers of 
Athens could have tolerated the gods of Homer. In- 
deed, the religion of the more cultivated Greeks appears 
to us monstrous, in proportion as they were superior to 
other men in poetry, art, and philosophy. 

Comparative mythologists explain the origin of wor- 
ship by two apparently oppugnant theories. The first is 
that whatever is seen in nature stranire and wonder- 
ful, is deemed by primitive man an object worthy of 
worship. The other is, that upon certain noted indi- 
viduals are fastened metaphorical names, symbolic of 
some quality alike in them and in the natural object 
after which they are called ; that this name, which at 
the first was but the surname of an individual, after its 
possessor is dead and forgotten, lives, reverts to the 


plant or animal whence it came, becomes impersonal, 
and is worshiped by a conservative posterity. In other 
words, one theory fastens upon natural phenomena, 
human attributes, and worships nature under covering 
of those attributes, while the other worships in the 
natural object only the memory of a dead and forgotten 
man. I have no doubt that in both of these hypotheses 
are elements of truth. 

In the earlier acts of worship the tendency is to 
assimilate the object worshiped and the character of the 
worshiper, and also to assign habitations to deities, 
behind man's immediate environment. Every people 
has its heaven and hell; the former most generally lo- 
cated beyond the blue sky, and the latter in the dark 
interior caves of the earth. Han in nature reproduces 
himself; invests appearances with attributes analogous 
to his own. This likeness of the supernatural to the 
natural, of gods to man, is the first advance from fetich- 
ism, but as the intellect advances anthropomorphism 
declines. As one by one the nearest mysteries are 
solved by science, the emptiness of superstition becomes 
apparent, and the wonderless wonder is referred by the 
waking mind to general laws of causation ; but still cling- 
ing to its first conceptions it places them on objects more 
remote. Man fixes his eyes upon the planets, discovers 
their movements, and fancies their controlling spirit also 
controls his destiny ; and when released by reason from 
star- worship, as formerly from fetich ism, again an ad- 
vance is made, always Hearing the doctrine of universal 

In one tersely comprehensive sentence Clarke gives 
the old view of what were called natural religions: 
"They considered them, in their source, the work of 
fraud; in their essence, corrupt superstitions; in their 
doctrines, wholly false ; in their moral tendency, abso- 
lutely injurious; and in their result, degenerating more/ 
and more into greater evil." 

And this view seems to him alike uncharitable and 
unreasonable: "To assume that they are wholly evil is 


disrespectful to human nature. It supposes man to be 
the easy and universal dupe of fraud. But these reli- 
gions do not rest on such a sandy foundation, but on the 
feeling of dependence, the sense of accountability, the 
recognition of spiritual realities very near to this world 
of matter, and the need of looking up and worshiping 
some unseen power higher and better than ourselves. 
We shall find them always feeling after God, often find- 
ing him. We shall see that in their origin they are not 
the work of priestcraft, but of human nature ; in their 
essence not superstitions, but religions; in their doc- 
trines true more frequently than false; in their moral 
tendency good rather than evil. And instead of degen- 
erating toward something worse, they come to prepare 
the way for something better." 

The nearest case to deliberate invention of deities 
was, perhaps, the promulgation as objects of worship 
in primitive times of such abstractions as Hope (Spes), 
Fear (Pallor), Concord (Concordia), Courage (Virtus), 
etc. How far these gods were gods, however, in even 
the ordinary heathen sense of the word, is doubtful. In 
any case, they were but the extension of an old and ex- 
istent principle — the personification of divine aspects or 
qualities; they added no more to what went before than 
a new Saint or Virgin of Loretto does to the Catholic 

"It was a favorite opinion with the Christian apolo- 
gists, Eusebius and others," says Gladstone, "that the 
pagan deities represented deified men. Others consider 
them to signify the powers of external nature personi- 
fied. For others they are, in many cases, impersona- 
tions of human passions and propensities, reflected back 
from the mind of man. A fourth mode of interpreta- 
tion would treat them as copies, distorted and depraved, 
of a primitive system of religion given by God to man. 
The Apostle St. Paul speaks of them as devils ; by which 
he may perhaps intend to convey that, under the names 
and in connection with the worship of those deities, the 
worst influences of the Evil One were at work. This 


would rather be a subjective than an objective descrip- 
tion; and would rather convey an account of the prac- 
tical working of a corrupted religion, than an explanation 
of its origin or its early course. As between the other 
four, it seems probable that they all, in various degrees 
and manners, entered into the composition of the later 
paganism, and also of the Homeric or Olympian system. 
That system, however, was profoundly adverse to mere 
Nature-worship ; while the care of departments or prov- 
inces of external nature were assigned to its leading 
personages. Such worship of natural objects or ele- 
mental powers, as prevailed in connection with it, was 
in general local or secondary. And the deification of 
heroes in the age of Homer was rare and merely titular. 
We do not find that any cult or system of devotion was 
attached to it." 

So humanly divine, so impotently great are the gods 
of Homer; so thoroughly invested with the passions of 
men, clothed in distinctive shades of human character; 
such mingled virtue and vice, love and hate, courage and 
cowardice; animal passions uniting with noble senti- 
ments: base and vulgar thoughts with lofty and sub- 
lime ideas; and all so wrought up by his inimitable 
fancy into divine and supernatural beings, as to work 
most powerfully upon the nature of the people. 

These concrete conceptions of his deities have ever 
been a source of consolation to the savage ; for, by thus 
bringing down the gods to a nearer level with himself, 
they could be more materially propitiated, and their pro- 
tection purchased with gifts and sacrifices. Thus the 
Greeks could obtain advice through oracles, the Hindoo 
could pass at once into eternal joys by throwing himself 
under the car of Juggernaut, while the latter-day offender 
seeks in the assistance of the departed to buy forgive- 
ness with charities, and to compound crime by building 

The difficulty is, that in attempting to establish any 
theory concerning the origin of things, the soundest 
logic is little else than wild speculation. Mankind pro- 


gress unconsciously. "We know not what problems we 
ourselves are working out for those who come after us ; 
we know not by what process we arrive at many of our 
conclusions ; much of that which is clear to ourselves is 
never understood by our neighbor, and never will be 
even known by our posterity. Events the most material 
are soon forgotten, or else are made spiritual and pre- 
served as myths. Blot out the process by which science 
arrived at results, and in every achievement of science, 
in the steam engine, the electric telegraph, we should soon 
have a heaven-descended agency, a god for every ma- 
chine. Where mythology ceases and history begins, is 
in the annals of every nation a matter of dispute. 
What at first appears to be wholly fabulous may contain 
some truth, whereas much of what is held to be true is 
mere fable, and herein excessive skepticism is as un- 
wise as excessive credulity. 

Historical facts, if unrecorded, are soon lost. Thus 
when Juan de On ate penetrated New Mexico in 15%, 
Fray Marco de Niza, and the expedition of Coronado in 
1540, appear to have been entirely forgotten by the 
Cibolans. Fathers Crespi and Junipero Serra, in their 
overland explorations of 1 709, preparatory to the estab- 
lishment of a line of Missions along the Californian 
seaboard, could find no traces, in the minds of the natives, 
of Cabrillo's voyage in 1542, or of the landing of Sir 
Francis Drake in 1579 ; although, so impressed were the 
savages in the latter instance, that, according to the worthy 
chaplain of the expedition, they desired "with submis- 
sion and fear to worship us as gods." Nor can we think 
civilized memories — which ascribe the plays of Shake- 
speare to Bacon, and parcel out the Iliad of Homer 
among numberless unrecorded verse-makers — more te- 
nacious. Frederick Augustus Wolf denies that a Homer 
ever existed; or, if he did, that he ever wrote his poem, 
as writing was at that time not generally known ; but he 
claims that snatches of history, descending orally from one 
generation to another, in the end coalesced into the 
matchless Iliad and Odyssey. The event which so 


strongly impressed the father, becomes vague in the 
mind of the son, and in the third generation is either 
lost or becomes legendary. Incidents of recent occur- 
rence, contemporary perhaps with the narration, are 
sometimes so misinterpreted by ignorance or distorted 
by prejudice, as to place the fact strangely at variance 
with the recital. Yet no incident nor action falls pur- 
poseless to the ground. Unrecorded it may be, unwit- 
nessed, unheard by beings material; a thought- wave 
even, lost in space invisible, acting, for aught we know, 
only upon the author ; yet so acting, it casts an influence, 
stamps on fleeting time its record, thereby fulfilling its 
destiny. Thus linger vapory conceits long after the 
action which created them has sunk into oblivion ; unde- 
fined shadows of substance departed ; none the less im- 
pressive because mingled with immortal imagery. 

Turn now from outward events to inner life ; from 
events grown shadowy with time, to life ever dim and 
mysterious alike to savage and sage. Everywhere man 
beholds much that is incomprehensible; within, around, 
the past, the future. Invisible forces are at work, in- 
visible agencies play upon his destiny. And in the 
creations of fancy, which of necessity grow out of the 
influence of nature upon the imagination, it is not 
strange that mysteries darken, facts and fancies blend ; 
the past and the future uniting in a supernatural 

We are never content with positive knowledge. From 
the earliest workings of the mind, creations of fancy 
play as important a part in ethical economy as positive 
perceptions. Nor does culture in any wise lessen these 
fanciful creations of the intellect. In the political arena 
of civilized nations, wars and revolutions for the en- 
forcement of opinion concerning matters beyond the 
reach of positive knowledge, have equaled if they have 
not exceeded wars for empire or ascendancy. In the 
social and individual affairs of life we are governed 
more by the ideal than by the real. On reaching the 
limits of positive knowledge, reason pauses, but fancy 


overleaps the boundary, and wanders forward in an end- 
less waste of speculation. 

The tendenc}^ of intellectual progress, according to 
the philosophy of Herbert Spencer, is from the concrete 
to the abstract, from the homogeneous to the heteroge- 
neous, from the knowable to the unknowable. Primor- 
dial ly nothing was known; as superstitions and priest- 
craft grew rank, everything became known; there was 
not a problem in the natural or in the supernatural 
world unsolvable by religion. Now, when some ele- 
ments of absolute knowledge are beginning to appear, 
we discover, not only that little is positively known, but 
that much of what has been hitherto deemed past con- 
troverting, is, under the present regime of thought, 
absolutely unknowable. Formerly ultimate religious 
knowledge was attained by the very novices of religion, 
and ultimate scientific knowledge was explained through 
their fanatical conceptions. Not only were all the mys- 
teries of the material universe easily solved by the 
Fathers, but heaven was measured and the phenomena 
of hell minutely described. Now we are just begin- 
ning to comprehend that ultimate facts will probably 
ever remain unknowable facts, for when the present 
ultimate is attained, an eternity of undiscovered truth 
will still lay stretched out before the searcher. Until 
the finite becomes infinite, and time lapses into eternity, 
the realm of thought will remain unfilled. At present, 
and until the scope of the intellect is materially en- 
larged, such theories as the origin of the universe — 
held by atheists to be self-existent, by pantheists to have 
been self-created, and by theists to have been originated 
by an external agency — must remain, as they are now 
admitted to be, questions beyond even the comprehen- 
sion of the intellect. Likewise scientific ultimates — such 
as the qualities of time and space, the divisibility of mat- 
ter, the co-ordination of motion and rest, the correlation 
of forces, the mysteries of gravitation, light and heat — 
are found to be not only not solvable, but not conceiva- 
ble. And, as with the external, so with the inward 


life; we cannot conceive the nature, nor explain the 
origin and duration, of consciousness. The endless spec- 
ulations of biology and psychology only leave impres- 
sions at once of the strength and weakness of the mind 
of man; strong in empirical knowledge, impotent in 
every attempt rationally to penetrate the unfathomable. 
Nowhere in mythology do we find the world self-created 
or self-existent. Some external agency is ever brought 
in to perform the work, and in the end the structure of 
the universe is resolved into its original elements. 

Primordial man finds himself surrounded by natural 
phenomena, the operations of which his intelligence is 
capable of grasping but partially. Certain appetites 
sharpen, at once, certain instincts. Hunger makes him 
acquainted with the fruits of the earth; cold with the 
skins of beasts. Accident supplies him with rude im- 
plements, and imparts to him a knowledge of his power 
over animals. But as instinct merges into intellect, 
strange powers in nature are felt ; invisible agents wield- 
ing invisible weapons ; realities which exist unheard and 
move unseen ; outward manifestations of hidden strength. 
Humanity, divine, but wild and wondering, half- fed, 
half-clad, ranges woods primeval, hears the roar of bat- 
tling elements, sees the ancient forest-tree shivered into 
fragments by heaven's artillery, feels the solid earth rise 
up in rumbling waves beneath his feet. He receives, as 
it were, a blow from within the darkness, and flinging 
himself upon the ground he begs protection ; from what 
he knows not, of whom he knows not. "Bury me not, 
tumultuous heavens," he cries, "under the clouds of 
your displeasure !" "Strike me not down in wrath, 
fierce flaming lire!" "Earth, be firm!" Here, then, is 

O 7 7 

the origin of prayer. And to render more effectual his 
entreaties, a gift is offered. Seizing upon whatever he 
prizes most, his food, his raiment, he rushes forth and 
hurls his propitiatory offering heavenward, earthward, 
whithersoever his frenzied fancy dictates. • Or, if this 
is not enough, the still more dearly valued gift of human 
blood or human life is offered. His own flesh he freely 


lacerates; to save his own life he gives that of his 
enemy, his slave, or even his child. Hence arises sac- 

And here also conjurings commence. The necessity 
is felt of opening up some intercourse with these mys- 
terious powers; relations commercial and social; calami- 
ties and casualties, personal and public, must be traced 
to causes, and the tormenting demon bought off. But it 
is clearly evident that these elemental forces are not all 
of them inimical to the happiness of mankind. Sun- 
shine, air and water, the benign influences in nature, 
are as powerful to create, as the adverse elements are to 
destroy. And as these forces appear contlicting. part 
productive of life and enjoyment, and part of destruc- 
tion, decay, and death, a separation is made. Hence 
principles of good and evil are discovered ; and to all 
these unaccountable forces in nature, names and proper- 
ties are given, and causations invented. For every act 
there is an actor — for every deed a doer; for every 
power and passion there is made a god. 

Thus we see that worship in some form is a human 
necessity, or, at least, a constant accompaniment of hu- 
manity. Until ^perfect wisdom and limitless power are 
the attributes of humanity, adoration will continue ; for 
men will never cease to reverence what they do not un- 
derstand, nor will they cease to fear such elements of 
strength as are beyond their control. The form of this 
conciliatory homage appears to arise from common hu- 
man instincts; for, throughout the world and in all 
agas, a similarity in primitive religious forms has existed. 
It is a giving of something; the barter of a valuable 
something for a something more valuable. As in his 
civil polit}^ all crimes may be compounded or avenged, 
so in his worship, the savage gives his, his prop- 
erty, or his blood. 

At first, this spirit power is seen in everything ; in 
the storm and in the soft evening air; in clouds and 
cataracts, in mountains, rocks, and rivers; in trees, in 
reptiles, beasts, and fishes. But when progressive man 


obtains a more perfect mastery over the brute creation, 
brute worship ceases; as he becomes familiar with the 
causes of some of the forces in nature, and is better able 
to protect himself from them, the fear of natural objects 
is lessened. Leaving the level of the brute creation he 
mounts upward, and selecting from his own species some 
living or dead hero, he endows a king or comrade with 
superhuman attributes, and worships his dead fellow 
as a divine being. Still he tunes his thoughts to subtler 
creations, and carves with skillful fingers material images 
of supernatural forms. Then comes idolatry. The great 
principles of causation being determined and embodied 
in perceptible forms, adorations ensue. Cravings, how- 
ever, increase. As the intellect expands, one idol after 
another is thrown down. Mind assumes the mastery 
over matter. From gods of wood and stone, made by 
men's fingers, and from suns and planets, carved by the 
fingers of omnipotence, the creature now turns to the 
Creator. A form of ideal worship supplants the mate- 
rial form; gods known and tangible are thrown aside 
for the unknown God. And well were it for the intel- 
lect could it stop here. But, as the actions of countless 
material gods were clear to the primitive priest, and by 
him satisfactorily explained to the savage masses; so, in 
this more advanced state men are not wanting who re- 
ceive from their ideal god revelations of his actions and 
motives. To its new, unknown, ideal god, the partially 
awakened human mind attaches the positive attributes 
of the old, material- deities, or invents new ones, and 
starts anew to tread the endless mythologic circle ; until 
in vet a higher state it discovers that both god and attri- 
butes are wholly beyond its grasp, and that with all its 
progress, it has advanced but slightly beyond the first 
savage conception; — a power altogether mysterious, in- 
explicable to science, controlling phenomena of mind 
and matter. 

Barbarians are the most religious of mortals. While 
the busy, overworked brain of the scholar or man of 
business is occupied with more practical affairs, the list- 


less mind of the savage, thrown as he is upon the very 
bosom of nature, is filled with innumerable conjectures 
and interrogatories. His curiosity, like that of a child, 
is proverbial, and as superstition is ever the resource of 
ignorance, queer fancies and fantasms concerning life and 
death, and gods and devils float continually through his 
unenlightened imagination. 

Ill-protected from the elements, his comfort and his 
uncertain food-supply depending upon them, primitive 
man regards nature * with eager interest. Like the 
beasts, his forest companions, he places himself as fir as 
possible in harmony with his environment. He migrates 
with the seasons; feasts when food is plenty, fasts in 
famine-time; basks and gambols in the sunshine, cowers 
beneath the fury of the storm, crawls from the cold into 
his den, and there quasi-torpidly remains until nature 
releases him. Is it therefore strange that savage intel- 
lect peoples the elements with supernatural powers ; that 
God is everywhere, in everything; in the most trifling 
accident and incident, as well as in the sun, the sea, the 
grove ; that when evil comes God is angry, when fortune 
smiles God is favorable; and that he speaks to his wild, 
untutored people in signs and dreams, in the tempest and 
in the sunshine. Nor does he withhold the still, small 
voice, which breathes upon minds most darkened, and 
into breasts the most savage, a spirit of progress, which, 
if a people be left to the free fulfillment of their destiny, 
is sure, sooner or later, to ripen into full development. 

^Ye will now glance at the origin of fetichism, which 
indeed may be called the origin of ideal religion, from 
the other standpoint; that which arises from the respect 
men feel for the memory of their departed ancestors. 

The first conception of a dualty in man's nature has 
been attributed to various causes ; it may be the result of 
a combination of causes. There is the shadow upon 
the ground, separate, yet inseparable; the reflection of 
the form upon the water; the echo of the voice, 
the adventures of fancy portrayed by dreams. Self 

Vol. III. 3 


is divisible from and inseparably connected with this 
other self. Herefrom arise innumerable superstitions ; it 
was portentous of misfortune for one's clothes to be 
stepped on; no food must be left uneaten; nail clippings 
and locks of hair must not fall into the hands of an 
enemy. Catlin, in sketching his portraits, often narrow- 
ly escaped with his life, the Indians believing that in 
their likenesses he carried away their other self. 
And when death comes, and this other self departs, 
whither has it gone ? The lifeless body remains, but 
where is the life ? The mind cannot conceive of the 
total extinguishment of an entity, and so the imagina- 
tion rears a local habitation for every departed spirit. 
Every phenomenon and every event is analyzed under 
this hypothesis. For every event there is not only a 
cause, but a personal cause, an independent agent behind 
every consequence. Every animal, every fish and bird, 
every rock and stream and plant, the ripening fruit, 
the falling rain, the uncertain wind, the sun and stars, 
are all personified. There is no disease without its god 
or devil, no fish entangled in the net, no beast or bird 
that falls before the hunter, without its special sender. 
Savages are more afraid of a dead man than a live 
one. They are overwhelmed with terror at the thought 
of this unseen power over them. The spirit of the de- 
parted is omnipotent and omnipresent. At any cost or 
hazard it must be propitiated. So food is placed in the 
grave; wives and slaves, and horses and dogs, are slain, 
and in spirit sent to serve the ghost of the departed; 
phantom messengers are sent to the region of shadows 
from time to time; the messengers sometimes even vol- 
unteering to go. So boats and weapons and all the 
property of the deceased are burned or deposited with 
him. In the hand of the dead child is placed a toy; in 
that of the departed warrior, the symbolic pipe of peace, 
which is to open a tranquil entrance into his new abode ; 
clothes, and ornaments, and paint, are conveniently 
placed, and thus a proper personal appearance guaran- 
teed. Not that the things themselves are to be used, 


but the souls of things. The body of the chief rots, 
as does the material substance of the articles buried 
with it; but the soul of every article follows the soul of 
its owner, to serve its own peculiar end in the land of 

The Chinese, grown cunning with the great antiquity 
of their burial customs, which require money and food 
to be deposited for the benefit of the deceased, spiritual- 
ize the money, by making an imitation coin of paste- 
board, while the food, untouched by the dead, is finally 
eaten by themselves. 

But whence arises the strange propensity of all prim- 
itive nations to worship animals, and plants, and stones, 
things animate and inanimate, natural and supernatural? 
Why is it that all nations or tribes select from nature 
some object which they hold to be sacred, and which 
they venerate as deity? It is the opinion of Herbert 
Spencer that "the rudimentary form of all religion is 
the propitiation of dead ancestors, w T ho are supposed to 
be still existing, and to be capable of working good or 
evil to their descendants. ' ' It is the universal custom with 
savage tribes, as the character of their members becomes 
developed, to drop the real name of individuals and 
to fix upon them the attribute of some external object, 
by whose name only they are afterwards known. Thus 
a swift runner is called the ' antelope,' the slow of foot, 
the 'tortoise,' a merciless warrior, the 'wolf/ a dark- 
eyed maid may be likened to the 'raven,' a majestic 
matron to the ' cypress.' And so the rivulet, the rock, the 
dawn, the sun, and even elements invisible, are seized up- 
on as metaphors and fastened upon individuals, according 
to a real or fancied resemblance between the qualities 
of nature and the character of the men. Inferiority 
and baseness, alike with nobleness and w T ise conduct, 
perpetuate a name. Even in civilized societies, a nick- 
name often takes the place of the real name. School- 
boys are quick to distinguish peculiarities in their fel- 
lows, and fasten upon them significant names. A dull 
scholar is called ' cabbage-head,' the girl with red ring- 



lets, ' carrots.' In the family there is the greedy 
'pig,' the darling 'cluck,' the little 'lamb.' In new 
countries, and abnormal communities, where strangers 

7 7 c 

from all parts are promiscuously thrown together, not un- 
frequently men live on terms of intimacy for years with- 
out ever knowing each other's real name. Among miners, 
such appellations as 'Muley Bill,' 'Sand}',' 'Shorty,' 
' Sassafras Jack,' often serve all the purposes of a name. 
In more refined circles, there is the hjpocritical 'cro- 
c dile,' the sly 'fox,' the gruff 'bear.' AVe say of the 
horse, ' he is as fleet as the wind,' of a rapid account- 
ant, "he is as quick as lightning.' These names, which 
are used by us but for the moment, or to fit occasions, 
are among rude nations permanent — in many instances 
the only name a person ever receives. 

Sometimes the nickname of the individual becomes 
first a family name and then a tribal name; as when 
the chief, 'Co3~ote,' becomes renowned, his children 
love to call themselves 'Coyotes.' The chieftainship 
descending to the son and grandson of Coyote, the 
name becomes famous, the Coyote family the domin- 
ant family of the tribe ; members of the tribe, in their 
intercourse with other tribes, call themselves 'coyotes,' 
t> distinguish themselves from other tribes; the head, 
or tail, or claws, or skin, of the coyote ornaments the 
dress or adorns the bod}'; the name becomes tribal, and 
the animal the symbol or totem of the tribe. After a 
few generations have passed, the great chieftain, Coyote, 
and his immediate progeny are forgotten; meanwhile 
the beast becomes a favorite with the people; he begins 
to be regarded as privileged; is not hunted down like 
other beasts; the virtues and exploits of the whole 
Coyote clan become identified with the brute; the af- 
fections of the people are centered in the animal, and 
finally, all else being lost and forgotten, the descendants 
of the chieftain. Coyote, are the offspring of the veri- 
table beast, coyote. 

Concerning image- worship and the material represent 
tation of ideal behixs. Mr. Tvlor believes that "when 


man has got some way in developing the religious ele- 
ment in him, he begins to catch at the device of setting up 
a puppet, or a stone, as the symbol and representative of 
the notions of a higher being which are floating in his 

Primitive languages cannot express abstract qualities. 
For every kind of animal or bird or plant there may be 
a name, but for animals, plants, and birds in general, they 
have no name or conception. Therefore, the abstract 
quality becomes the Concrete idea of a god, and the de- 
scendants of a man whose symbolic name was i dog,' 
from being the children of the man become the child- 
ren of the dog. 

Hence also arise monsters, beings compounded of 
beast, bird, and fish, sphinxes, mermaids, human-headed 
brutes, winged animals; as when the descendant of the 
'hawk' carries off a wife from the 'salmon' tribe, a totem 
representing a fish with a hawk's head for a time keeps 
alive the occurrence and finally becomes the deity. 

Thus realities become metaphors and metaphors reali- 
ties; the fact dwindles into shadowy nothingness and 
the fancy springs into actual being. The historical inci- 
dent becomes first indistinct and then is forgotten; the 
metaphorical name of the dead ancestor is first respected 
in the animal or plant, then worshiped in the animal 
or plant, and finally the nickname and the ancestor both 
are forgotten and the idea becomes the entity, and the 
veritable object of worship. From forgetfulness of primo- 
genitor and metaphor, conceiving the animal to be the 
very ancestor, words are put into the animal's mouth, the 
sayings of the ancestor become the sayings of the brute ; 
hence mvtholoirical legends of talking beasts, and birds, 
and wise fishes. To one animal is attributed a miracu- 
lous cure, to another, assistance in time of trouble ; one 
animal is a deceiver, another a betrayer; and thus 
through their myths and metaphors we may look back 
into the soul of savagism and into their soul of nature. 

That this is the origin of some phases of fetichism 
there can be no doubt; that it is the origin of all reli- 


pons, or even the only method by which animal and 
plant worship originates, I do not believe. While 
there are undoubtedly general principles underlying all 
religious conceptions, it does not necessarily follow, that 
in every instance the methods of arriving at those funda- 
mental principles must be identical. As with us a child 
weeps over a dead mother's picture, regarding it with 
fond devotion, so the dutiful barbarian son, in order the 
better to propitiate the favor of his dead ancestor, some- 
times carves his image in wood or stone, which sentiment 
with time lapses into idolatry. Any object which strikes 
the rude fancy as analogous to the character of an indi- 
vidual may become an object of worship. 

The interpretation of myth can never be absolute and 
positive ; yet we may in almost every instance discover 
the general purport. Thus a superior god. we may be 
almost sure, refers to some potent hero, some primitive 
ruler, whom tradition has made superhuman in origin and 
in power; demigods, subordinate or inferior beings in 
power, must be regarded as legendary, referring to cer- 
tain influential persons, identified with some element or 
incident in which the deified personage played a con- 
spicuous part. 

Although in mythology religion is the dominant ele- 
ment, yet mythology is not wholly made up of religion, 
nor are all primitive religions mythical. " There are 
few mistakes" says Professor ^lax M tiller "so widely 
spread and so firmly established as that which makes us 
confound the religion and the mythology of the ancient 
nations of the world. How mythology arises, necessarily 
and naturally, I tried to explain in my former lectures, 
and we saw that, as an affection or disorder of lano'uaa'e, 
mythology may infect every part of the intellectual life 
of man. True it is that no ideas are more liable to my- 
thological disease than religious ideas, because they 
transcend those regions of our experience within which 
language has its natural origin, and must therefore, ac- 
cording to their very nature, be satisfied with metaphori- 
cal expressions. Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither 


hath it entered into the heart of man. Yet even the 
religions of the ancient nations are by no means inevi- 
tably and altogether mythological. On the contrary, as 
a diseased frame pre-supposes a healthy frame, so a 
mythological religion pre-supposes, * I believe, a healthy 

The universal secrets of supernatural beings are wrap- 
ped up in probable or possible fable; the elements of 
physical nature are impersonated in allegories, and 
arrayed in forms perceptible to the imagination; deities 
are sometimes introduced into the machinery of the 
supernatural in order to gratify that love for the mar- 
velous which every attempt to explain the mysterious 
forces of nature creates in the ignorant mind. Yet 
it cannot truly be said that any form of religion, much 
less any religion was wholly invented. Fanatics some- 
times originate doctrines, and the Church sets forth its 
dogmas, but there must be a foundation of truth or the 
edifice cannot stand. Inventions there undoubtedly 
have been and are, but inventions, sooner or later fall 
to the ground, while the essential principles underlying 
religion and mythology, though momentarily overcome 
or swept away, are sure to remain. 

Every one of the fundamental ideas of religion is of 
indigenous origin, generating spontaneously in the 
human heart. It is a characteristic of mythology that the 
present inhabitants of the world descended from some 
nobler race. From the nobler impulses of fancy the 
savage derives his origin. His higher instincts teach 
him, that his dim distant past, and his impenetrable 
future, are alike of a lighter, more ethereal nature ; that 
his earthly nature is base, that that which binds him 
to earth is the lowest, vilest part of himself. 

The tendency of positive knowlege is to overthrow 
superstition. Hence as science develops, many tenets of 
established religions, palpably erroneous, are dropped, and 
the more knowledge becomes real, the more real know- 
ledge is denied. Superstition is not the effect of an 
active imagination, but shows rather a lack of imagination, 


for we see that the lower the stage of intelligence, and 
the feebler the imagination, the greater the superstition. 
A keen, vivid imagination, although capable of broader 
and more complicated conceptions, is able to explain the 
cruder marvels, and consequently to dispel the coarser 
phases of superstition, while the dull intellect accepts 
everything which is put upon it as true. Ultimate reli- 
gious conceptions are symbolic rather than actual. Ul- 
timate ideas of the universe are even beyond the grasp 
of the profoundest intellect. TTe can form but an ap- 
proximate idea of the sphere on which we live. To form 
conceptions of the relative and actual distances and 
magnitudes of heavenly bodies, of systems of worlds, and 
eternities of space, the human mind is totally inadequate. 
If, therefore, the mind is unable to grasp material visible 
objects, how much less are we able to measure the invisi- 
ble and eternal. 

When therefore the savage attempts to solve the prob- 
lem of natural phenomena, he first reduces broad concep- 
tions to symbolic ideas. He moulds his deity according 
to the measure of his mind ; and in forming a skeleton 
upon which to elaborate his religious instincts, proximate 
theories are accepted, and almost any explanation ap- 
pears to him plausible. The potential creations of his 
fancy are brought within the compass of his comprehen- 
sion; symbolic gods are moulded from mud, or carved 
from wood or stone; and thus by segregating an infi- 
nitesimal part of the vast idea of deity, the worshiper 
meets the material requirements of his religious con- 
ceptions. And although the lower forms of worship are 
abandoned as the intellect unfolds, the same principle 
is continued. We set up in the mind symbols of the ulti- 
mate idea which is too great for our grasp, and imagining 
ourselves in possession of the actual idea, we Ml into 
numberless errors concerning what we believe or think. 
The atheistic hypothesis of self-existence, the pantheistic 
h^vpothesis of self-creation, and the theistic hypothesis of 
creation by an external agency are equally unthinkable, 
and therefore as postulates equally untenable. Yet un- 


derlying all, however gross or superstitious the dogma, 
is one fundamental truth, namely, that there is a prob- 
lem to be solved, an existent mysterious universe to be 
accounted for. 

Deep down in every human breast is implanted a 
religiosity as a fundamental attribute of man's nature; 
a consciousness that behind visible appearances is an in- 
visible power; underlying all conception is an instinct 
or intuition from which there is no escape, that beyond 
material actualities potential agencies are at work; and 
throughout all belief, from the stupidest fetichism to the 
most exalted monotheism, as part of these instinctive con- 
victions, it is held that the beings, or being, who rule 
man's destiny may be propitiated. 

The first cry of nature is hushed. From time im- 
memorial nations and peoples have come and gone, 
whence and whither no one knows; entering existence 
unannounced they disappear and leave no trace, save 
perhaps their impress on the language or the mythology 
of the world. Thus from historic fact blended with the 
religious sentiments springs the Mythic Idea. 

In the following chapters, I have attempted, as far as 
practicable, to classify the Myths of the Pacific States 
'ander appropriate heads. In making such a classification 
there is no difficulty, except where in one myth occur 
two or more divisions of the subject, in which case it 
becomes necessary, either to break the narrative, or 
make exceptions to the general rule of classifying. I 
have invariably adopted the latter alternative. The 
divisions which I make of Mythology are as follows: I. 
Origin and End of Things; II. Physical Myths; III. 
Animal Myths; IV. Gods, Supernatural Beings, and 
Worship; V. The Future State. 



Quiche Creation-Myth — Aztec Origin-Myths— The Papagos — Montezu- 
ma and the Coyote — The Moquis — The Great Spider's Web of the 
Pimas — Navajo and Pceblo Creations — Origin of Clear Lake and 
Lake Tahoe — Chareya of the Cahrocs — Mount Shasta, the WlG- 
wam of the great spirit— idaho springs and water falls — how 
Differences in Language Occurrkd — Yehl, the Creator of the 
Thlinkeets — The Raven and the Dog. 

Of all American peoples the Quiches, of Guatema- 
la, have left us the richest mythological legacy. Their 
description of the creation as given in the Popol Vuh, 
which may be called the national book of the Quiches, 1 

1 In Vienna in 1857, the book now best known as the Popol Vnh 
was first brought to the notice of European scholars, under the following 
title: Las Historias del Origen de los Indios de esta Provineia de Guatemala, 
traducidas de la Lengua <laiche at Castellano para mas Comodidad de los 
Ministros del S. Eoangelio, por el R. P. F. Francisco Xhnenez, cava doctrinero 
por el real patronato del Pueblo de S. Thomas Chuila. — Exactamerde serjun 
el texto espanol del manuserito original qua se Italia en la biblioteca de la 
Unicersidad de Guatemala, publicado por la primera vez, y aumentado c<»i 
una introduction y anotaciones }><>>• el JJr C. Scherzer. What Dr Scherzer 
says in a paper read before the Vienna Academy of Sciences, Feb. 20th, 
1850, and repeats in his introduction, about its author, amounts to this: In 
the early part of the 18th century Francisco Ximenez, a Dominican Father of 
great repute for his learning and his love of truth, rilled the office of curate 
in the little Indian town of Chichicastenango in the highlands of Guatemala. 
Neither the time of his birth nor that of his death can be exactly ascertained, 
but the internal evidence of one of his works shows that he was engaged 
upon it in 1721. He left many manuscripts, but it is supposed that 
the unpalatable truths some of them contain with regard to the ill-treatment 
of the Indians by the colonial authorities sufficed, as previously in the case 
of Las Casas, to ensure their partial destruction and total suppression. W hat 
remains of them lay long hid in an obscure corner of the Convent of the 
Dominicans in Guatemala, and passed afterwards, on the supression of all 



is, in its rude strange eloquence and poetic originality, 
one of the rarest relics of aboriginal thought. Although 
obliged in reproducing it to condense somewhat, I have 

the religions orders, into the library of the University of San Carlos (Gua- 
ala). Here Dr. Scherzer discovered them in June 1854, and care- 
fully copied, and afterwards published as above the particular treatise 
with which we are now concerned. This, according to Father Ximenez him- 
self, and according to its internal evidence', is a translation of a literal copy of 
an original book, written by one or more Quiche's, in the Quiche language, in 
Roman letters, after the Christians bal occupied Guatemala, and after the 
real original Popol Vuh — National Book — had been lost or destroyed — lite- 
rally, was no more to be seer? — and written to replace that lost book. ' Quise 
trasladar todas las historias d la letra de estos indios, y tambien traducirla 
en la lengua castellana.' ' Esto escribiremos ya en la ley de Dios en la 
cristiandad, los sacaremos, porque ya no hay libro comun, original donde 
verlo, Ximenez, Hist. Ind. Guat., pp. 1, 4, 5. 'Voilace que nous ecrironsde- 
puis (qu'on a promulgue) la parole de Dieu, et en dedans du Christianisme ; 
nous le reproduirons, parce qu'on ne voit plus ce Livre national,' ' Yae 
x-chi-ka tzibah chupan chic u chabal Dios, pa Christianoil chic; x-ehi-k"- 
elezah, rumal ma-habi chic ilbal re Popo-Vuh,' Brasseur de Bourbourg, Popol 
\ r uh, p. 5. The evidence that the author was Quiche will be found in 
the numerous passages scattered through the narrative in which he 
speaks of the Quiche nation, and of the ancestors of that nation as ' our 
people, ' our ancestors,' and so on. We pass now to what the Abb,' Bras- 
seur de Bourbourg has to say about the book. He says that Ximenes 
'discovered this document, in the last years of the 17th century.' In 
1855, at Guatemala, the abbe first saw Ximenez' manuscript containing this 
work. The manuscript contained the Quiche text and the Spanish curate's 
translation of that text. Brasseur de Bourbourg copied both at that time, but 
he was dissatisfied with the translation, believing it to be full of faults owing 
to the prejudices and the ignorance of the age in which it was made, as well 
as disfigured by abridgments and omissions. So in 18G0 he settled himself 
among the Quiches and by the help of natives joined to his own practical 
knowledge of their language, he elaborated a new and literal translation, 
(aussi litterale qu'il a ete possible de la faire). We seem justified then on 
the whole in taking this document for what Ximenez and its own evidence 
declare it to be, namely, a reproduction of an older work or body of Quiche 
traditional history, written because that older work had been lost and was 
likely to be forgotten, and written by a Quiche not long after the Spanish 
conquest. One consequence of the last fact would seem to be that a tinge of 
biblical expression has, consciously or unconsciously to the Quiche who 
wrote, influenced the form of the narrative. But these coincidences may be 
wholly accidental, the more as there are also striking resemblances to expres- 
sions in the Scandinavian Edda and in the Hindoo Veda. And even if they 
lie not accidental, 'much remains,' adopting the language and the conclu- 
sion of Professor Max Midler, ' in these American traditions which is so 
different from anything else in the national literatures of other countries, 
that we may safely treat it as the genuine growth of the intellectual soil of 
America.' Chips from a German Workshop, vol. i., p. 328. For the fore- 
going, as well as further information on the subject see: — Brasseur de Bour- 
bourg, Popol Vuh, pp. 5-31, 195-231; S'il existe des Sources de VHist. Prim., 
pp. 83-7; Hist, des Sat. Civ., torn, i., pp. 47-61; Ximenez, Hist. Ind. Guat., 
pp. 5-15; Scherzer, in Sitzungberichte der Akademie der Wissenshaften Win, 
20th Feb., 185G; Helps' Spanish Conquest, vol. iv., pp. 455-6. Professor 
Midler in his essay on the Popol Vuh, has in one or two places misunder- 
stood the narrative. There was no such creation of man as that he gives 
as the second, while his third creation is the second of the original. 
Again, he makes the four Quiche ancestors to be the progenitors of 


endeavored to give not only the substance, but also, as 
far as possible, the peculiar style and phraseology of the 
original. It is with this primeval picture, whose simple 
silent sublimity is that of the inscrutable past, that we 
beain : — 


And the heaven was formed, and all the signs thereof 
set in their angle and alignment, and its boundaries fixed 
towards the four winds by the Creator and Former, and 
Mother and Father of life and existence, — he by whom 
all move and breathe, the Father and Cherisher of the 
peace of nations and of the civilization of his people, — 
he whose wisdom has projected the excellence of all that 
is on the earth, or in the lakes, or in the sea. 

Behold the first word and the first discourse. There 
was as yet no man, nor any animal, nor bird, nor fish, 
nor crawfish, nor any pit, nor ravine, nor green herb, 
nor any tree ; nothing was but the firmament. The face 
of the earth had not yet appeared, — only the peaceful sea 
and all the space of heaven. There was nothing jet 
joined together, nothing that clung to anything else ; no- 
thing that balanced itself, that made the least rustling, 
that made a sound in the heaven. There was nothing 
that stood up ; nothing but the quiet water, but the sea, 
calm and alone in its boundaries : nothing existed ; no- 
thing but immobility and silence, in the darkness, in the 
night. 2 

all tribes both white and black; while they were the parents of the Quiche 
and kindred races only. The course of the legend brings us to tribes of a 
strange blood, with which these four ancestors and their people were often 
at war. The narrative is, however, itself so confused and contradictory 
at points, that it is almost impossible to avoid such things; and, as a 
whole, the views of Professor Midler on the Popol Vuh seem just and well 
considered. Baldwin, Ancient America, pp. 191-7, gives a mere dilution of 
Professor Midler's essay, and that without acknowledgment. 

2 The original Quiche runs as follows: 'Are u tzihoxic vae ca catzinin-oc, 
ca ca chamam-oc, ca tzinonic; ca ca zilanic, ca ca lolinic, ca tolona puch u 
pa cah. Vae cute nabe tzih, nabe uchan. — Ma-habi-oc hun vinak, htm 
chicop; tziquin, car, tap, che, abah, hul, civan, quim, qichelnh: xa-utuquel 
call qolic. Mavi ealah u vach uleu: xa-utuquel remanic palo, u pah cah 
ronohel. Ma-habi nakila ca molobic, ca cotzobie: hunta ca zilobic; carnal 
ca ban-tah, ca cotz ca ban-tali pa cah. X-ma qo-vi nakila qolic yacalic; xa 
remanic ha, xa liaiiic palo, xa-utuquel remanic; x-ma qo-vi nakilalo qolic. 
Xa ca chamanic, ca tziiiinic chi gekum, chi agab.' 

This passage is rendered by the Abbe Urasseur de Eourbourg thus: ' Voi- 
ci le recit comme quoi tout etait en suspeus, tout etait calme et silencieux; 


Alone also the Creator, the Former, the Dominator, 
the Feathered Serpent, — those that engender, those 
that give being, they are upon the water, like a 
growing light. They are enveloped in green and 
blue; and therefore their name is Gucumatz. 3 Lo, 
now how the heavens exist, how exists also the 
Heart of Heaven; such is the name of God; it is 
thus that he is called. And they spake; they con- 
sulted together and meditated ; they mingled their words 
and their opinion. And the creation was verily after 
this wise: Earth, they said, and on the instant it was 
formed ; like a cloud or a fog was its beginning. Then 
the mountains rose over the water like great lobsters; 
in an instant the mountains and the plains were visible, 
and the cypress and the pine appeared. Then was the 
Gucumatz filled with joy, crying out: Blessed be thy 
coming. Heart of Heaven, Hurakan, Thunderbolt. 
Our work and our labor has accomplished its end. 

The earth and its vegetation having thus appeared, it 
was peopled with the various forms of animal life. And 
the Makers said to the animals: Speak now our name, 

tout etait immobile, tout etait paisible, et vide etait 1' immensite des cieux. 
Voila done la premiere parole et le premier discours. II n'y avait pas encore 
im seul homme, pas un animal; pas d'oiseaux, de poissons, d'ecrevisses, 
de bois, de pierre, de fondrieres, de ravins, d'herbe on bebocages: seulement 
If ciel existait. La face de la terre ne se manifestait pas encore: seule la 
mer paisible etait et tout l'espace des cieux. II n'y avait encore rien qui fit 
corps, rien qui se crampoimat a autre chose: rien qui se balancat, qui fit (le 
moindre) frolement, qui fit (entendre) un son dans le ciel. II n'y avait rien 
qui existat debout; (il n'y avait) que l'eau paisible, que la mercalme et seule 
Tan s ses bornes; car il n'y avait rien qui existat. Ce n'etait que l'immobili- 
t.- et le silence dans les tenebres, dans la nuit.' Popol Vuh,"p. 7. 

And by Francisco Ximenez thus: Este es su ser dicho cuando estaba sus- 
penso enealma, ensileneio, sin moverse, sin cosa sino vacio el cielo. Y esta 
es la primera palabra y elocuencia; aim nohabia hombres, animales, pajaros, 
pescado, cangrejo, palo, piedra, hoya, barranca, paja ni monte, sino solo 
estaba el cielo; no se manifestaba la fa/ de la tierra; sino que solo estaba el 
mar represado, y todolo del cielo; aim nohabia cosa alguna junta, nisonaba 
nada. ni eosa alguna se meneaba, ni cosa que hiciera mal, ni cosa que hiciera 
"cotz," (esto es ruido en el cielo), ni habia cosa que estuviese parada en 
pie; solo el agua represada, solo la mar sosegada, solo ella represada, ni eosa 
alguna habia que estuviese; solo estaba en silencio, y sosiego en la obscu- 
ridad, y la noche.' Hist. Ind. Guat., pp. 5-6. 

3 ' Gucumatz, litteralement serpent emplume, et dans un sens plus etendu, 
serpent revetu de couleurs brillantes, de vert on d'azur. Les plumes du guc 
ou quetzal offrent egalement les deux teintes. C'est exactment la meme 
chose (pie quetzalcohtiatl dans la langue mexicaine.' Brassear de Jiuarbourg, 
Hist, des Nat. Civ., torn, i., p. 50. 


honor us, us your mother and father; invoke Hurakan, 
the Lightning-flash, the Thunderbolt that strikes, the 
Heart of Heaven, the Heart of the Earth, the Creator and 
Former, Him who begets, and Him who gives being, — 
Speak, call on us, salute us! So was it said to the animals. 
But the animals could not answer ; they could not speak 
at all after the manner of men ; they could only cluck, 
and croak, each murmuring after his kind in a different 
manner. This displeased the Creators, and they said to 
the animals: Inasmuch as ye can not praise us, neither 
call upon our names, your flesh shall be humiliated ; it 
shall be broken with teeth ; ye shall be killed and eaten. 
Again the gods took counsel together ; they determined 
to make man. So they made a man of clay ; and when 
they had made him, they saw that it was not good. He 
was without cohesion, without consistence, motionless, 
strengthless, inept, watery; he could not move his head, 
his face looked but one way; his sight was restricted, he 
could not look behind him ; he had been endowed with 
language, but he had no intelligence, so he was consumed 

O O 7 O 7 

in the water. 

Again is there counsel in heaven: Let us make 
an intelligent being who shall adore and invoke us. 
It was decided that a man should be made of wood 
and a woman of a kind of pith. They were made ; but 
the result was in no wise satisfactory. They moved 
about perfectly well, it is true; they increased and mul- 
tiplied ; they peopled the world with sons and daughters, 
little wooden mannikins like themselves; but still the 
heart and the intelligence were wanting: they held no 
memory of their Maker and Former ; they led a useless 
existence, they lived as the beasts live ; they forgot the 
Heart of Heaven. They were but an essay, an attempt 
at men; they had neither blood, nor substance, nor 
moisture, nor fat; their cheeks were shrivelled, their feet 
and hands dried up; their flesh languished. 

Then was the Heart of Heaven wroth ; and he sent 
ruin and destruction upon those ingrates ; he rained upon 
them night and da} T from heaven with a thick resin; 


and the earth was darkened. And the men went mad 
with terror; they tried to mount upon the roofs and the 
houses fell; they tried to climb the trees and the trees 
shook them far from their branches; they tried to hide 
in the caves and dens of the earth, but these closed their 
holes against them. The bird Xecotcovach came to tear 
out their eyes ; and the Camalotz cut off their head ; and 
the Ootzbalam devoured their flesh; and the Tecum- 
balam broke and bruised their bones to powder. Thus 
were they all devoted to chastisement and destruction, 
save only a few who were preserved as memorials of the 
wooden men that had been; and these now exist in the 
woods as little apes. 4 

Once more are the gods in counsel; in the darkness, 
in the night of a desolated universe do they commune to- 
gether: of what shall we make man? And the Crea- 
tor and Former made four perfect men; and wholly of 
yellow and white maize was their flesh composed. These 
were the names of the four men that were made : the 
name of the first was Balam- Qui tze ; of the second, Balam- 
Agab; of the third Mahucutah; and of the fourth, Iqi- 
Balam. 5 They had neither father nor mother, neither 
were they made by the ordinary agents in the work of 
creation ; but their coining into existence was a miracle 
extraordinary, wrought by the special intervention of 
him who is preeminently The Creator. Verily, at last, 
were there found men worthy of their origin and their 
destiny ; verily, at last, did the gods look on beings who 
could see with their eyes, and handle with their hands, 
and understand with their hearts. Grand of counte- 
nance and broad of limb the four sires of our race stood 
up under the white rays of the morning star — sole light 
as yet of the primeval world — stood up and looked. 
Their great clear eyes swept rapidly over all ; they saw 

4 A long rambling story is here introduced which has nothing to do with 
Creation, and which is omitted for the present. 

r -> Balam-Quitze, the tiger with the sweet smile; Balam-Agab, the tiger of the 
night; Mahucutah, the distinguished name; Iqi-Balam, the tiger of the moon. 
' Telle est la signification litterale que Ximenez a donnee de ces quatre noms.' 
Brasseur de Bourbotay, Popol Vuh, p. 199. 


the woods and the rocks, the lakes and the sea, the 
mountains and the valleys, and the heavens that were 
above all; and they comprehended all and admired ex- 
ceedingly. Then they returned thanks to those who had 
made the world and all that therein was: We offer up 
our thanks, twice — yea verily, thrice! We have received 
life ; we speak, we walk, we taste ; we hear and under- 
stand : we know, both that which is near and that which 
is far off; we see all things, great and small, in all the 
heaven and earth. Thanks then, Maker and Former, 
Father and Mother of our life ! we have been created ; 
we are. 

But the gods were not wholly pleased with this thing; 
Heaven they thought had overshot its mark ; these men 
were too perfect; knew, understood, and saw r too much. 
Therefore there was counsel again in heaven : What shall 
we do with man now? It is not good, this that we see; 
these are as gods; they would make themselves equal 
with us ; lo, they know all things, great and small. Let 
us now contract their sight, so that they may see only a 
little of the surface of the earth and be content. There- 
upon the Heart of Heaven breathed a cloud over the 
pupil of the eyes of men, and a veil came over it as 
when one breathes on the face of a mirror ; thus was the 
globe of the eye darkened ; neither was that which was 
far oil" clear to it any more, but only that which was near. 

Then the four men slept, and there was counsel in 
heaven: and four women were made, — to Balam-Quitze 
was allotted Caha-Paluma to wife; to Balam-Agab, 
Chomiha; to Mahucuth, Tzununiha; and to Iqi-Balam, 
Cakixaha. Xow the women were exceedingly fair to 
look upon ; and when the men awoke, their hearts were 
glad because of the women. 

Next, as I interpret the narrative, there were other 
men created, the ancestors of other peoples, while the 

c Caha-paluma, the falling water; Chomi-ha or Chomih-a, the beautiful house 

or the beautiful water; in the same way, Tzununiha may mean either the house 

or the water of the humming-birds; and Cakixaha, either the house or the 

water of the aras [which are a kind of parrot]. Brasseur de JSourbourg, Popol 

Vuh, p. 205. 


first four were the fathers of all the branches of the 
Quiche race. The different tribes at first, however, lived 
together amicably enough, in a primitive state; and in- 
creased and multiplied, leading happy lives under their 
bright and morning star, precursor of the yet unseen sun. 
They had as yet no worship save the breathing of the 
instinct of their soul, as yet no altars to the gods; 
only— and is there not a whole idyl in the simple words? 
— only they gazed up into heaven, not knowing what the}' 
had come so far to do! 7 They were filled with love, 
with obedience, and with fear ; and lifting their eyes to- 
wards heaven, they made their requests: — 

Hail! Creator, Former! thou that nearest and 
understandest us! abandon us not, forsake us not! 
God, thou that art in heaven and on the earth, Heart 
of Heaven, Heart of Earth! give us descendants and a 
posterity as long as the light endure. Give us to walk 
always in an open road, in a path without snares; to 
lead happy, quiet, and peaceable lives, free of all reproach. 
It was thus they spake, living tranquilly, invoking the 
return of the light, waiting the rising of the sun, watch- 
ing the star of the morning, precursor of the sun. But 
no sun came, and the four men and their descendants 
grew uneasy : YVe have no person to watch over us, they 
said, nothing to guard our symbols. So the four men and 
their people set out for Tulan-Zuiva, 8 otherwise called 
the Seven-caves or Seven-ravines, and there they re- 
ceived gods, each man as head of a family, a god ; though 
inasmuch as the fourth man, Iqi-Balam, had no children 
and founded no family, his god is not usually taken into 
the account. Balam-Quitze received the god Toliil; Ba- 

7 ' Are ma-habi chi tzukun, qui coon; xavi chi cahchi qui pacaba qui vach ; 
mavi qu'etaam x-e be-vi naht x-qui bano. ' ' Alors ils ne servaient pas encore 
et ne soutenaient point (les autels des dieux) ; seulement ils tournaientleurs 
visages vers le ciel, et ils ne savaient ce qu'ils etaient venus f aire si loin.' 
Brasseurde Bourbourg, Popol Vah, p. 209. It is right to add, however, that 
Ximenez gives a much more prosaic turn to the passage: 'No cabian de 
sustento, sino que levantaban las caras al cielo y no se sabian alejar.' Hist. 
Lii'l. Gnat., p. 84. 

8 Or as Ximenez, H'st. Lid. Gnat., p. 87, writes it,— Tulanzii, (las siete 
cuevas y siete barrancas). 

Vol. III. i 


lam Agab received the god Avilix; and Mahucutah re- 
ceived the god Hacavitz ; all very powerful gods, but Tohil 
seems to have been the chief, and in a general way, god 
of the whole Quiche nation. Other people received gods 
at the same time ; and it had been for all a long march 
to Tulan. 

Now the Quiches had as yet no fire, and as Tulan 
was a much colder climate than the happy eastern land 
they had left, they soon began to feel the want of it. 
The god Tohil w T ho was the creator of fire had some in his 
possession ; so to him, as was most natural, the Quiches 
applied, and Tohil in some w r ay supplied them with fire. 

But shortly after, there fell a great rain that extin- 
guished all the fires of the land ; and much hail also fell 
on the heads of the people ; and because of the rain and 
the hail, their fires were utterly scattered and put out. 
Then Tohil created fire again by stamping with his 
sandal. Several times thus fire failed them, but Tohil 
always renewed it. Many other trials also they under- 
went in Tulan, famines and such things, and a general 
dampness and cold, — for the earth was moist, there being 
as yet no sun. 

Here also the language of all the families was confused 
so that no one of the first four men could any longer un- 
derstand the speech of another. This also made them 
very sad. They determined to leave Tulan; and the 
greater part of them, under the guardianship and direc- 
tion of Tohil, set out to see where they should take up their 
abode. They continued on their way amid the most 
extreme hardships for want of food; sustaining them- 
selves at one time upon the mere smell of their staves, 
and by imagining that they were eating, when in verity 
and in truth, they ate nothing. Their heart, indeed, it 
is again and again said, was almost broken by affliction. 
Poor wanderers! they had a cruel way to go, many for- 
ests to pierce, many stern mountains to overpass and a 
long passage to make through the sea, along the shingle 
and pebbles and drifted sand, — the sea being, however, 
parted for their passage. 


At last they came to a mountain that they named 
Hacavitz, after one of their gods, and here they rested, — 
for here they were by some means given to understand 
that they should see the sun. Then indeed, was filled 
with an exceeding joy, the heart of Balam-Quitze, of 
Balam- Agab, of Mahucutah, and of Iqi-Balam. It seemed 
to them that even the face of the morning star caught a 
new and more resplendent brightness. They shook their 
incense pans and danced for very gladness : sweet were 
their tears in dancing, Very hot their incense — their pre- 
cious incense. At last the sun commenced to advance : 
the animals, small and great, were full of delight; they 
raised themselves to the surface of the water ; they flut- 
tered in the ravines; they gathered at the edge of the 
mountains, turning their heads together toward that 
part from which the sun came. And the lion and the 
tiger roared. And the first bird that sang was that called 
the Queletzu. All the animals were beside themselves at 
the sight; the eagle and the kite beat their wings, and 
every bird, both small and great. The men prostrated 
themselves on the ground, for their hearts were full to 
the brim. 

And the sun, and the moon, and the stars were now 
all established. Yet was not the sun then in the be- 
ginning the same as now ; his heat wanted force, and lie 
was but as a reflection in a mirror ; verily, say the histo- 
ries, not at all the same sun as that of to-day. Xever- 
theless he dried up and warmed the surface of the earth, 
and answered many good ends. 

Another wonder when the sun rose! The three tribal 
gods, Tohil, Avilix, and Hacavitz, were turned into stone, 
as were also the gods connected with the lion, the tiger, 
the viper, and other fierce and dangerous animals. Per- 
haps we should not be alive at this moment — continues 
the chronicle — because of the voracity of these fierce ani- 
mals, of these lions, and tigers, and vipers ; perhaps to- 
day our glory would not be in existence, had not the sun 
caused this petrification. 

And the people multiplied on this Mount Hacavitz, 


and here they built their city. It is here also that they 
began to sing that song called Kamucu, 'we see.' They 
sang it, though it made their hearts ache, for this is what 
they said in singing: Alas! TTe ruined ourselves in 
Tulan, there lost we man}* of our kith and kin, they still 
remain there, left behind! We indeed have seen the 
sun, but they — now that his golden light begins to ap- 
pear, where are they? 

And they worshiped the gods that had become stone, 
Tohil, Avilix. and Hacavitz; and they offered them the 
blood of beasts, and of birds, and pierced their own ears 
and shoulders in honor of these gods, and collected the 
blood with a sponge, and pressed it out into a cup before 

Toward the end of their long and eventful life Ba- 
lam-Quitze, Balam-Agab, Mahucutah, and Iqi-Balam 
were impelled, apparently by a supernatural vision, to 
lay before their gods a more awful offering than the life 
of senseless beasts. They began to wet their altars 
with the heart's blood of human victims. From their 
mountain hold they watched for lonely travelers belong- 
ing to the surrounding tribes, seized, overpowered, and 
slew them for a sacrifice. Man after man was missing in 
the neighboring villages; and the people said: Lo! the 
tigers have carried them away, — for wherever the blood 
was of a man slain, were always found the tracks of 
many tigers. Now this was the craft of the priests, and 
at last the tribes began to suspect the thing and to fol- 
low the tracks of the tigers. But the trails had been 
made purposely intricate, by steps returning on them- 
selves and by the obliteration of steps; and the moun- 
tain region where the altars were was alreacty covered 
with a thick fog and a small rain, and its paths flowed 
with mud. 

The hearts of the villagers were thus fatigued within 
them, pursuing unknown enemies. At last, however, it 
became plain that the gods Tohil, Avilix and Hacavitz, 
and their worship, were in some waj* or other the cause 
of this bereavement: so the people of the villages con- 


spired against them. Many attacks, both openly and 
by ruses, did they make on the gods, and on the four 
men, and on the children and people connected with 
them; but not once did they succeed, so great was the 
wisdom, and power, and courage of the four men and of 
their deities. And these three gods petrified, as we 
have told, could nevertheless resume a movable shape 
when they pleased; which indeed they often did, as will 
be seen hereafter. 

At last the war was 'finished. By the miraculous aid 
of a horde of wasps and hornets, the Quiches utterly de- 
feated and put to the rout in a general battle all their 
enemies. And the tribes humiliated themselves before 
the face of Balam-Quitze, of Balam-Agab, and of Mahu- 
cutah: Unfortunates that we are, they said, spare to us 
at least our lives. Let it be so, it was answered, al- 
though you be worthy of death; you shall, however, be 
our tributaries and serve us, as long as the sun endure, 
as long as the light shall follow his course. This was 
the repty of our fathers and mothers, upon Mount Ha- 
cavitz; and thereafter they lived in great honor and 
peace, and their souls had rest, and all the tribes served 
them there. 

Xow it came to pass that the time of the death of 
Balam-Quitze, Balam-Agab, Mahucutah, and Iqi-Balam 
drew near. No bodily sickness nor suffering came upon 
them; but they were forewarned that their death and 
their end was at hand. Then they called their sons 
and their descendants round them to receive their last 

And the heart of the old men was rent within them. 
In the anguish of their heart they sang the Kamucu, 
the old Scad song that they had sung when the sun first 
rose, when the sun rose and they thought of the friends 
they had left in Tulan, whose face they should see 
no more for ever. Then they took leave of their 
wives, one by one; and of their sons, one by one; of 
each in particular the}' took leave; and they said: 
We return to our people; already the King of the 


Stags is ready, he stretches himself through the heaven. 
Lo, we are about to return ; our work is done ; the days 
of our life are complete. Remember us well; let us 
never pass from your memory. You will see still our 
houses and our mountains ; multiply in them, and then 
go on upon your way and see again the places whence we 
are come. 

So the old men took leave of their sons and of their 
wives; and Balam-Quitze spake again: Behold! he said, 
I leave you what shall keep me in remembrance. I 
have taken leave of 3-011 — and am filled with sadness, 
he added. Then instantly the four old men were not; 
but in their place was a great bundle ; and it was never 
unfolded, neither could any man find seam therein on 
rolling it over and over. So it was called the Majesty 
Enveloped ; and it became a memorial of these fathers, 
and was held very dear and precious in the sight of the 
Quiches; and they burned incense before it. 9 

Thus died and disappeared on Mount Hacavitz Balam- 
Quitze, Balam-Agab. Mahucutah, and Iqi-Balam, these 
first men who came from the east, from the other side of 
the sea. Long time had they been here when they 
died ; and they were very old, and surnamed the Ven- 
erated and the Sacrificers. 

Such is the Quiche account of the creation of the 
earth and its inhabitants and of the first years of the 
existence of mankind. Although we find here described 

9 The following passage in a letter from the Abbe Brasseur de Bourbourg, 
to Mr. Rafn of Copenhagen, bearing date 25th October, 185S, may be useful 
in this connection: — ' On sait que la coutume tolteque et mexicaine etait de 
conserver, comme chez les chretiens, les reliques des heros de la patrie : on 
enveloppait leurs os avec des pierres precieuses dans un paquet d'e*toffes 
auquel on donnait le nom de Tlaquimilolli; ces paquets denieuraient a ja- 
mais fermes et on les deposait au fond des sanctuaires oil on les conservait 
comme des objects sacres.' Nouveltes Annates des Vbyages, 1858, torn, iv., p. 
268. One of these 'bundles,' was given up to the Christians by a Tlasea- 
ltec some time after the conquest. It was reported to contain the remains of 
Camaxtli, the chief god of Tlascala. The native historian, Camargo, de- 
scribes it as follows: ' Quand on defit le paquet oil se trouvaient les cendres 

de l'idole Camaxtle, on y trouva aussi un paquet de cheveux blonds. 

on y trouva aussi une emeraude, et de ses cendres on avait fait une pate, 
en les petrissant avec le sang des enfants que Ton avait sacrihes.' Hist, de 
Tlaxcallan; in Nouvelles Annates des Voy., torn, xcix., 18-13, p. 179. 


in the plainest and least equivocal terms a supreme, all- 
-powerful Creator of all things, there are joined with 
him in a somewhat perplexing manner a number of 
auxiliary deities and makers. It may be that those 
i whose faith the Popol Yuh represents, conceiving and 
speaking of their supreme god under many aspects and 
as fulfilling many functions, came at times, either un- 
consciously or for dramatic effect, to bring this one 
great Being upon their mythic stage, sustaining at once 
many of his different parts and characters. Or per- 
haps, like the Hebrews, they believed that the Creator 
had made out of nothing or out of his own essence, in 
some mysterious way, angels and other beings to obey 
and to assist him in his sovereign designs, and that 
these 'were called gods.' That these Quiche notions 
seem foolishness to us, is no argument as to their adapta- 
tion to the life and thoughts of those who believed them ; 
for, in the words of Professor Max Miiller, "the thoughts 
of primitive humanity were not only different from our 
thoughts, but different also from what we think their 
I thoughts ought to have been." 10 

Yet whatever be the inconsistencies that obscure 
the Popol Yuh, we find them multiplied in the 
Mexican cosmogony, a tangled string of meagre and 
apparently fragmentary traditions. There appear to 
have been two principal schools of opinion in 
Anahuac, differing as to who was the Creator of 
the world, as well as on other points, — two veins of 
tradition, perhaps of common origin, which often seem 
to run into one, and are oftener still considered as one 
by historians to whom these heathen vanities were mat- 
ters of little importance. The more advanced school, 
ascribing its inspiration to Toltec sources, seems to have 
flourished notably in Tezcuco, especially while the fa- 
mous Xezahualcoyotl reigned there, and to have had 
very definite monotheistic ideas. It taught, as is 
asserted in unmistakable terms, that all things had been 

10 See Cox's Mythology of the Aryan Nations, vol. i., p. 333. 


made by one God, omnipotent and invisible; and to 
this school were probably owing the many gentle and 
beautiful ideas and rites, mingled with the hard, coarse, 
and prosaic cult of the mass of the people. 11 

The other school may be considered as more distinc- 
tively national, and as representing more particularly 
the ordinary Mexican mind. To it is to be ascribed by 
far the larger part of all we know about the Mexican 
religion. 12 According to the version of this school, Tez- 
catlipoca, - a god whose birth and adventures are set 
forth hereafter, was the creator of the material heaven 
and earth, though not of mankind ; and sometimes even 

7 ~ 7 

the honor of this partial creation is disputed by others 
of the gods. 

One Mexican nation, again, according to an ancient 

7 O O 

writer of their own blood, affirmed that the earth had 
been created by chance ; and as for the heavens, they had 
always existed. 13 

11 Even supposing there were no special historical reasons for making this 
distinction, it seems convenient that such ;i division should be made in a 
country where the distinction of classes was so marked as in Mexico. As 
Keade puts the case, Martrydom of Man, p. 177, 'In those countries where 
two distinct classes of men exist, the one intellectual and learned, the other 
illiterate and degraded, there will be in reality two religions, though nomi- 
nally there may be only one.' 

12 ' Les pretres et les nobles do Mexico avaient peri presque tons lors de la 
prise de cette ville, et ceux qui avaient echappe au massacre s'etaient refu- 
gies dans des lieux inaccessibles. Ce furent done presque toujours des gens 
du peuple sans education et livres aux plus grossieres superstitions qui leur 
nvent les recits qu'ils nous out transniis; Les missionnaires, d'ailleurs, 
avaient plus d'interet a connaitre les usages qu'ils voulaient deraciner de la 
masse du peuple qu'a comprendre le sens plus eleve que la partie eclairee 
de la nation pouvait y attacher.' Ternaux-Compans, Essai sur la Theogonie 
Mexicaine, in Nouvtlles Annates des Voy., torn, lxxxv., 1840, p. 271. 

13 This last statement rests on the authority of Domingo Munoz Camargo, 
a native of the city of Tlascala who wrote about 1585. See his Hist, de 
Tldxcillan as translated by Ternaux Compans in the Nouvelles Annates 
des Voy., torn, xcix., 1813, p. 129. 'Les Indiens ne croyaient pas que le 
monde eat ete cree, mais pensaient qu'il etait le produit du hazard. lis 
disaient aussi que les cieux avaient toujours existeV ' Estos, pues, alcanza- 
ron con claridad el verdadero origen y principio de todo el Universo, porque 
asientan que el cielo y la tierra y cuanto en ellos se halla es obra de la 
poderosa mano de un Dios Supremo y linico, a quien daban el nombre de 
Tloque Nahuaque, que quiere decir, criador de todas las cosas. Llamabanle 
tambien Ipalnemohualoni, que quiere decir, por quien vivimos y somos, 
y fue la dnica deidad que adoraron en aquellos primitivos tiempos; y 
ami despues que se introdujo la idolatria y el falso culto, le creyeron siem- 
pre superior a todos sus dioses, y le invocaban levantando los ojos al cielo. 
En esta creencia se mantuvieron constantes hasta la llegada de los es- 


From the fragments of the Chimalpopoca manuscript 
given by the Abbe Brasseur de Bourbourg we learn that 
the Creator — whoever he may have been — produced his 
work in successive epochs. In the sign Tochtli, the 
earth was created; in the sign Acatl was made the fir- 
mament, and in the sign Tecpatl the animals. Man it is 
added, was made and (animated out of ashes or dust by 
God on the seventh day, Ehecatl, but finished and per- 
fected by that mysterious personage Quetzalcoatl. 
However this account may be reconciled with itself or 
with others, it further appears that man was four times 
made and four times destroyed. 11 

paiioles, como afirma Herrera, no solo los raejicanos, sino tambien los de 
Michoacan.' Veytia, Historia Antigua de Mejico, torn, i., p. 7. ' Los Tultecas 
alcanzaron y supieron la creacion del ruundo, y como el Tloque Nahuaque lo 
crio y las demas cosas que hay en el, como son plantas, montes, animales, 
aves, agua y peces; asimismo supieron como crio Dios al hombre y una mu- 
ger, de donde los liombres descendieron y se multiplicaron, y sobre esto 
ailaden muchas fabulas que por escusar prolijidad no se ponen aqui.' Ixtlil- 
xochitl, Relaciones, in Kingsborough, vol. ix., p. 321. ' Dios Criador, que en 
lengua Indiana llamo Tloque Nahuaque, queriendo dar a entender, que este 
Solo, Poderoso, y Clementissimo Dios.' Boturini, Idea de una Hist., p. 79, 
' Confessauan losMexicanos a vn supremo Dios, Seiior, y hazedor de todo, y 
este era el principal que venerauan, mirando al cielo, llamandole criador del 
cielo y tierra.' Herrera, Hist. (Jen , dec. iii., lib. ii., cap. lo,p. 85. ' El dios que 
se llamaba Titlacaaon, (Tezcatlipuca), decian que era criador del cielo y de la 
tierra y era todo poderoso.' Sahagun, Hist. Ant. Mex., torn, i., lib. iii., p. 241. 
' Tezcatlipoca, Questo era il maggior Dio, clie in que' paesi si adorava, 

dopo il Dio invisibile, o Supremo Essere, di cui abbiam ragionato Era 

il Dio della Providenza, l'anima del Mondo, il Creator del Cielo e della Ter- 
ra, ed il Signor di tutte le cose.' Claviyero, Storia Antica del Messico, torn, ii., 
p. 7. ' La creacion del cielo y de la tierra aplieaban a diversos dioses, y al- 
gunos a Tezcatlipuca y a Uzilopuchtli, 6 segun otros, Ocelopuchtli, y de los 
principales de Mexico.' Mendieta, Hist. Ecles., p. 81. 

u ' Lorsque le ciel et la terre s'etaient faits, quatre fois dejal'homme avait 
et-j form':. . . .de cendres Dieu l'avait forme et anim^.'' The Codex Chimalpo- 
poca, or Chimalpopoca MS., after Brasseur de Bourbourg, Hist, des Nat. Civ., 
torn. L, p. 53. This Codex Chimalpopoca, so called by the Abbe Brasseur de 
Bourbourg, is an anonymous manuscript in the Mexican language. What 
we really know of this much-talked-of document is little, and will be best 
given in the original form. The following is the first notice I find of tin.; 
manuscript, with its appurtenances, being Boturini's description of it as 
possessed at one time by him. Catdlogo, pp. 17-18. 'Una historia de los 
Reynos de Culhukcan, y Mexico en lengua Nahuatl, y papel Europeo do 
Autor Anonymo, y tiene afiadida una Breve Kelacion de los Dioses, y Bitos 
de la Gentilidad en lengua Castellana que escribio el Bachiller Don Pedro 
Ponce, Indio Cazique Beneficiado, que fue del Partido de Tzumpahuacan. 
Esta todo copiado de letra de Don Fernando de Alba, y le falta la primera 
f )j a.' With regard to the term Nahuatl used in this Catalogue, see id p. 95: 
' Los Manuscritos en lengua Nahuatl, que en este Catalogo se citan, se enti- 
ende ser en lengua Mexicana!' This manuscript, or a copy of it, fell into 
the hands of the Abbe Brasseur de Bourbourg in the city of Mexico, in the 
year 1850, Brasseur de Bourbourg, Bibliotheque Mexico-Gfuatemalienne, Intro- 


This may perhaps he looked upon as proceeding from 
what I have called for convenience the Toltecan school, 
though this particular fragment shows traces of Christian 
influence. What follows seems however to belong to 
a distinctively Mexican and ruder vein of thought. It 
is gathered from Mendieta, who was indebted again to 
Fray Andres de Olmos, one of the earliest missionaries 
among the Mexicans of whom he treats; and it is de- 
cidedly one of the most authentic accounts of such mat- 
ters extant. 

The Mexicans in most of the provinces were agreed 
that there was a god in heaven called Citlalatonac, and 
a goddess called (Jitlalicue; 15 and that this goddess had 
given birth to a flint knife, Tecpatl. Now she had many 
sons living with her in heaven, who seeing this extraor- 
dinar v thing were alarmed, and tinni*; the flint down to 
the earth. It fell in a place called Chicomoztoc, that 
is to say the Seven Caves, and there immediately 
sprang up from it one thousand six hundred gods. 
These gods being alone on the earth, — though as will 
hereafter appear, there had been men in the world at 
a former period, — sent up their messenger Tlotli, 
the Hawk, to pray their mother to empower them 
to create men, so that thev might have servants as be- 
came their lineage. Citlalicue seemed to be a little 

duction. p. xxi., and the learned Abb'' describes it as follows: — 'Codex 
Ckimalpopoca (Copie du), contenant les Epoques, dites Histoire des So- 
1 'ils et l'Histoire des Royaumes de Colhuacan et de Mexico, texte Mexi- 
can (corrigj d'apres celui de M. Aubin), avec un essai de traduction fran- 
c, tise en regard, gr. in 4? — Manuscrit de \)'3 fi\, copie et traduit par le signa- 
taire de la bibliotheque. C'est la copie du document marque au n° 13, 
^S viii.. du catalogue de Boturini, sous le titre de: Historia de los Reyrios de 
Colhuacan y Mexico, etc. Ce document, oil pour la premiere fois j'ai souleve 
la voile enigmatique qui recouvrait les symboles de la religion et de l'histoire 
da Mexi jue et le plus important de tons ceux qui nous soientrestes des an- 
nales antiques mexicaines. II renferme chronologiquement l'histoire geolo- 
gique du monde, par s : ries de 13 ans, a commencer de plus de dix mille ans 
avant I'ere clir etienne, suivant les calculs mexicains.' Id., p. 47. 

13 Otherwise called, according to Clavigero, the god Ometeucili, and the 
goddess Omecihuatl. Ternaux-Compans says: 'Les noms d'Ometeuctli et 
d'Omecihuatl ne se trouvent nulle part ailleurs dans la mythologie mexicaine; 
mais on pourrait les expliquer par L' etymologic Ome signifie deux en mexi- 
cain, et tous les auteurs sont d accord pour traduire litteralement leur nom 
par deux seigneurs et deux dames.' Xouvelles Annates des Voy., torn, lxxxvi., 
1SI0, p. 7. 


ashamed of these sons of hers, born in so strange a 
manner, and she twitted them cruelly enough on what 
they could hardly help : Had you been what you ought to 
have been, she exclaimed, you would still be in my com- 
pany. Nevertheless she told them what to do in the mat- 
ter of obtaining their desire : Go beg of Mictlanteuctli, 
Lord of Hades, that he may give you a bone or some ashes 
of the dead that are with him ; which having received 
you shall sacrifice over it, sprinkling blood from your 
own bodies. And the fallen gods having consulted to- 
gether, sent one of their number, called Xolotl, 16 down 
to hades as their mother had advised. He succeeded 
in getting a bone of six feet long from Mictlanteuctli ; 
and then, wary of his grisly host, he took an abrupt de- 
parture, running at the top of his speed. Wroth at this, 
the infernal chief gave chase ; not causing to Xolotl, how- 
ever, any more serious inconvenience than a hasty fall 
in which the bone was broken in pieces. The messenger 
gathered up what he could in all haste, and despite 
his stumble made his escape. Reaching the earth, 
he put the fragments of bone into a basin, and all the 
gods drew blood from their bodies and sprinkled it into 
the vessel. On the fourth day there was a movement 
among the wetted bones and a boy lay there before all; 
and in four days more, the blood-letting and sprinkling 
being still kept up, a girl was lifted from the ghastly 
dish. The children were given to Xolotl to bring up; 
and he fed them on the juice of the maguey. 17 Increas- 

!6 Xolotl, 'servant or page.' — Molina, Vocabulario en lengua Castellana Mexi- 
cana. Not ' eye ' as some scholiasts have it. 

17 Literally, in the earliest copy of the myth that I have seen, the milk of 
the thistle, 'la leche de cardo,' which term has been repeated blindly, and 
apparently without any idea of its meaning, by the various writers that have 
followed. The old authorities, however, and especially Mendieta, from 
whom I take the legend, were in the habit of calling the maguey a thistle; 
and indeed the tremendous prickles of the Mexican plant may lay good claim 
to the Nemo me impune lacessit of the Scottish emblem. ' Maguey, que es el car- 
don de donde sacan la miel.' Mendieta, Hist. Ecles, p. 110. 'Metl es un arbol 
d cardo que en lengua de las Islas se llama maguey.' Motolinia, Hist, de los 
Ind., in [cazbalceta, Col. de Doc, torn, i., p. 243. ' Et similmente-cogliono le 
foglie di questo albero, 6 cardo che si tengono la, come qua le vigne, et 
chiamanlo magueis.' Relatione folia per un GfentiVhuomo del iShjnor Cortese, in 
Bamusio Viaggi, torn, iii., fol. 307. 

go oe:gin and end of things. 

ing in stature, they became man and woman; and from 
them are the people of the present day descended, who, 
even as the primordial bone was broken into unequal 
pieces, vary in size and shape. The name of this first 
man was Iztacmixcuatl, and the name of his wife Ilan- 
cueitl, 18 and they had six sons born to them, whose de- 
scendants, with their god-masters, in process of time 
moved eastward from their original home, almost uni- 
versally described as having been towards Jalisco. 

Now there had been no sun in existence for many 
years; so the gods being assembled in a place called 
Teotihuacan, six leagues from Mexico, and gathered at 
the time round a great fire, told their devotees that he 
of them who should first cast himself into that lire, 
should have the honor of being transformed into a sun. 
So one of them called Nanahuatzin, — either as most 
say, out of pure bravery, or as Sahagun relates, because 
his life had become a burden to him through a syphilitic 
disease, — Hun"; himself into the fire. Then the o;ods 
began to peer through the gloom in all directions for the 
expected light and to make bets as to what part of 
heaven he should first appear in. And some said Here, 
and some said There ; but when the sun rose they were 
all proved wrong, for not one of them had fixed upon the 
east. 19 And in that same hour, though they knew it 

13 Motolinia in Icazbalceta, Col. torn, i., pp. 6-10, says this first man and 
woman were begotten between the rain and the; dust of the earth — ' engendrada 
de la lluvia y del polvo de la tierra' — and in other ways adds to the per- 
plexity; so tli it I am well inclined to agree with Miiller, Amerikanische urre- 
ligionen, p. 518, when he says these cosmogonical myths display marks of 
local origin and of the subsequent fusion of several legends into an incon- 
gruous whole. ' Aus dieser Menge von Verschiedenheiten in diesen Kos- 
mogonien ist ersichtlich, dass viele Lokalmythen hier wie in Peru unabhan- 
gig von einander entstanden die man ausserlich mit einander verband, die 
aber in mancheiiei Widerspriichen auch noch spiiter ihre ursprungliche Un- 
abhangigkeit zu erkennen geben.' 

19 Here, as elsewhere in this legend we follow Andres de Olmos' account as 
given by Mendieta. Sahagun, however differs from it a good deal in places. 
At this point for example, he mentions some notable personages who guessed 
right about the rising of the sun: — -' Otros se pusieron a mirar acia el oriente, 
y digeron aqui, de esta parte ha de salir el Sol. El dicho de estos fue verda- 
dero. Dicen que los que miraron acia el Oriente, fueron Quetzalcoatl, que 
tambien se llama Ecatl, y otro que se llama Totec, y por otro nombre Anaoatly- 
tecu, y por otro nombre Tlatavictezcatlipuca, y otros que se Hainan Miniz- 
coa,' or as in Kingsborough's edition, Jlex. Antlq, vol. vii., p. 183. k por 


not, the decree went forth that they should all die by 

The sun had risen indeed, and with a glory of the 
cruel lire about him that not even the eyes of the gods 
could endure ; but he moved not. There he lay on the 
horizon ; and when the deities sent Tlotli their messenger 
to him, with orders that he should go on upon his way, 
his ominous answer was, that he would never leave that 
place till he had destroyed and put an end to them all. 
Then a great fear fell upon some, while others were moved 
only to anger ; and among the latter was one Citli, who im- 
mediately strung his bow and advanced against the glit- 
tering enemy. By quickly lowering his head the Sun 
avoided the first arrow shot at him ; but the second and 
third had attained his body in quick succession, when, 
filled with fury, he seized the last and launched it back 
upon his assailant. And the brave Citli laid shaft to 
string nevermore, for the arrow of the sun pierced his 

Then all was dismay in the assembly of the gods, and 
despair filled their heart, for they saw that they could 
not prevail against the shining one ; and they agreed to 
die, and to cut themselves open through the breast. 
Xolotl was appointed minister, and he killed his 
companions one by one, and last of all he slew himself 
also. 20 So they died like gods; and each left to the sad 
and wondering men who were his servants, his garments 
for a memorial. And these servants made up, each 
party, a bundle of the raiment that had been left to 

otro nombre Anaoatl y Tecu, y por otro nombre Tlatavictezcatlipuea, y otros 
que se llaman Miniizcoa, que son inumerables; y cuatro mugeres, la una se 
lama Tiacapan, la otra Teicu, la tercera Tlacoeoa, la cuarta Xocoyotl.' Saha- 
llist. (Jen., torn, ii., lib. viii., p. 248. 
20 Besides differences of authorities already noticed, I may add that Sa- 
hagun describes the personage who became the sun, — as well as him who, 
as we shall soon see, became the moon, — as belonging before his transfor- 
mation to the number of the gods, and not as one of the men who served 
them. Further, in recounting the death of the gods, Sahagun says that to 
the Air, Ecatl, Quetzalcoatl, was alloted the task of killing the rest; nor does 
it appear that Quetzalcoatl killed himself. As to Xolotl, he plays quite a 
cowardly part in this version; trying to elude his death, he transformed him- 
Be'f into various things, and was only at last taken and killed under the form 
of a fish called Axolotl. 


them, binding it about a stick into which the}' had bed- 
ded a small green stone to serve as a heart. These bun- 
dles were called tlaquimilloU, and each bore the name of 
that god whose memorial it was ; and these things were 
more reverenced than the ordinary gods of stone and 
wood of the country. Fray Andres de Olmos found one 
of these relics in Tlalmanalco, wrapped up in many 
cloths, and half rotten with being kept hid so long. 21 

Immediately on the death of the gods the sun be- 
gan his motion in the heavens ; and a man called Te- 
cuzistecatl, or Tezcociztecatl, who, when Nanahuatzin 
leaped into the fire, had retired into a cave, now 
emerged from his concealment as the moon. Others 
say that instead of going into a cave, this Tecuzis- 
tecatl, had leaped into the fire after Nanahuatzin, 
but that, the heat of the fire being; somewhat abated, 
he had come out less brilliant than the sun. Still 
another variation is, that the sun and moon came 
out equally bright, but this not seeming good to the gods, 
one of them took a rabbit by the heels and slung it into 
the face of the moon, dimming its lustre with a blotch 
whose mark may be seen to this day. 

After the gods had died in the wa}^ herein related, 
leaving their garments behind as relics, those servants 
went about everywhere, bearing these relics like bundles 
upon their shoulders, very sad and pensive and wonder- 
ing if ever again they would see their departed gods. 
Xow the name of one of these deceased deities was Tez- 
catlipoca, and his servant having arrived at the sea 
coast, was favored with an apparition of his master in 
three different shapes. And Tezcatlipoca spake to his 
servant saying : Come hither, thou that lovest me so well, 
that I may tell thee what thou hast to do. Go now to 
the House of the Sun and fetch thence singers and in- 
struments so that thou mayest make me a festival; but 
first call upon the whale, and upon the siren, and upon 
the tortoise, and they shall make thee a bridge to the sun. 

21 This kind of idol answers evidently to the mysterious ' Envelope ' of 
the Quiche myth. See also note 9. 


Then was all this done; and the messenger went 
across the sea upon his living bridge, towards the House 
of the Sun. singing what he had to say. And the Sun 
heard the song, and he straitly charged his people and 
servants, saying: See now that ye make no response to 
this chant, for whoever replies to it must be taken away 
by the singer. But the song was so exceeding sweet 
that some of them could not but answer, and they were 
lured away, bearing with them the drum, teponaztli, and 
the kettle-drum, vevetl. Such was the origin of the 
festivals and the dances to the gods ; and the songs sung 
during these dances they held as prayers, singing them 
always with great accuracy of intonation and time. 

In their oral traditions, the Tezcucans agreed with the 
usual Mexican account of creation — the falling of the 
flint from heaven to earth, and so on — but what they after- 
ward showed in a picture, and explained to Fray Andres 
de Olmos as the manner of the creation of mankind, was 
this: The event took place in the land of Aculma, on 
the Tezcucan boundary at a distance of two leagues from 
Tezcuco and of five from Mexico. It is said that the 
sun, being at the hour of nine, cast a dart into the earth 
at the place we have mentioned and made a hole ; from 
this hole a man came out, the first man and somewhat 
imperfect withal, as there was no more of him than from 
the arm-pits up, much like the conventional European 
cherub, only without wings. After that the woman 
came up out of the hole. The rest of the story was not 
considered proper for printing by Mendieta; but at any 
rate from these two are mankind descended. The name 
of the first man was Aculmaitl, — that is to say, aculli, 
shoulder, and maitl, hand or arm, — and from him the 
town of Aculma is said to take its name. 22 And this ety- 
mology seems to make it probable that the details of this 
myth are derived, to some extent, from the name of the 

22 Besides the Chimalpopoca manuscript, the earliest summaries of the 
Mexican creation-myths u.e to be found in Mendieta, J list. Ecles., pp. 77-81; 
Sahajun, Hist. Gen., torn, i., lib. iii., p. 233, torn, ii., lib. vii., pp. 240-250; 
Boturini, Idea de una Hist., pp. 37-43; Torquemada, Monarq. Ind., torn, i., pp. 
31-5, torn, ii., pp. 76-8; Ctavigero, Storia Ant. del Messico, torn, ii., pp. 8-10. 


place in which it was located ; or that the name of the 
first man belonging to an early phase of the language, 
has been misunderstood, and that to the false etjmol- 
ogy the details of the myth are owing. 

As already stated there had been men on the earth 
previous to that final and perfect creation of man from 
the bone supplied by Mictlanteuctli, and wetted by the 
gods with their own blood at the place of the Seven 
Caves. These men had been swept away by a succes- 
sion of great destructions. With regard to the number of 
these destructions it is hard to speak positively, as on no 
single point in the wide range of early American reli- 
gion, does there exist so much difference of opinion. All 
the way from twice to five times, following different 
accounts, has the world been desolated by tremendous 
convulsions of nature. I follow most closely the version 
of the Tezcucan historian Ixtlilxochitl, as beins; one of 
the earliest accounts, as, prima facie, from its origin, 
one of the most authentic, and as being supported by a 
majority of respectable historians up to the time of Hum- 

Of the creation which ushered in the first age we know 
nothing; we are only told by Boturini, that giants then 
began to appear on the earth. This First Age, or 'sun.' 
was called the Sun of the Water, and it was ended by 
a tremendous flood in which every living thing perished, 
or was transformed, except, following some accounts, one 
man and one woman of the giant race, of whose escape 
more hereafter. The Second Age, called the Sun of 
the Earth, was closed with earthquakes, y awnings of the 
earth, and the overthrow of the highest mountains. 
Giants, or Quinames, a powerful and haughty race still 
appear to be the only inhabitants of the world. The 
Third Age was the Sun of the Air. It was ended by 
tempests and hurricanes, so destructive that few indeed 
of the inhabitants of the earth were left; and those 
that were saved, lost, according to the Tlascaltec ac- 
count, their reason and speech, becoming monkeys. 

The present is the Fourth Age. To it appear to be- 


I0112; the falling of the goddess-born flint from heaven, 
the birth of the sixteen hundred heroes from that flint, 
the birth of mankind from the bone brought from hades, 
the transformation of Nanahuatzin into the sun, the trans- 
formation of Tezcatecatl into the moon, and the death of 
the sixteen hundred heroes or gods. It is called the 
Sun of Fire, and is to be ended by a universal conflagra- 
tion. 23 

Connected with the great flood of water, there is a 

25 Txtlilxochitl, IIlsl. Chichimeca in Kingsborough's Mex. Antiq., vol. ix., pp. 
205-6. The same author, in his Relaciones, lb. pp. 321-2, either through 
his own carelessness or that of a transcriber, transposes the second and 
third Ages. To see that it is an oversight of some sort, we have but to pass 
to the summary he gives at the end of these game Relaciones, Jh., p. 459, 
where the account is again found in strict agreement with the version given 
ia the text. Camargo, Hist, de Tlax. in wouvelles Annates des Voy., torn. 
xcix., IS 13, p. 132, giving as we may suppose the Tlascaltec version of the 
general Mexican myth, agrees with ixtlilxoehitl as to the whole number of 
Ages, following, however, the order of the error above noticed in the Rela- 
tion .s. The Tlascaltec historian, moreover, affirms that only two of these 
Ages are past, and that the third and fourth destructions are yet to come. 
M. Ternaux-Oompans, Nouvslles AnnaUs des Voy., torn, lxxxvi., 1840, p. 5, 
adopts this Tlascaltec account as the general Mexican tradition; he is fol- 
1 >wed by Dr. Prichird, Rsetr-h-s, vol v., pp., 300-1. Dr. Prichard cites 
Bradford as supporting the same opinion, but erroneously, as Bradford, Am. 
Antiq., p. 328, follows Humboldt. Boturini, Idea de ana Hist., p. 3, and Clavi- 
>. StorvaAnt. del Mtssivo, torn, ii., p. 57, agree exactly with the text. The 
Abb' Braoseur de Bourbourg also accepts the version of three past destruc- 
tions. S'il existe des Sources de ('Hist. Prim., pp. 26-7. Professor J. G-. Mid- 
ler, Amerifcanisohe Urreligionm, pp. 510-12, admits that the version of three 
past destructions and one to come, as given in the text, and in the order there 
given, ' seems to be the most ancient Mexican version;' though he decides to 
follow Humboldt, and adopts what he calls the ' latest and fullest form of the 
myth.' The Spiegazione d< lie Tavole del Codice Mexicano [Vaticano] contradicts 
itself, giving first two past destructions, and farther on four, Kingsborough's 
Mx. Antiq., vol. v., pp. 163-7; as does also the Explic. del Codex Telleriano- 
Remznsis, [')., pp. 131-6. Kingsborough himself seems to favor the idea of 
three past destructions and four ages in all; see Mex. Antiq., vol. vi., p. 171, 
note. Gromara, Hist. M j x., fol. 297-8; Leon y Gama, Dos Piedras, parte i., 
pp. 91-5; Humboldt. Vues., tom.ii., pp. 118-129; Prescott, Conq. of Mex., 
vol. i., p. 61; Gallatin, in Am. Ethnol. Soc. Transact., vol. i., p. 325, — de- 
scribe four past destructions and one yat to come, or five Ages, and 
the Chimalpopoca MS., see note 13, seems also to favor this opinion. 
Lastly, Mendieta, Hist. Ecles., p. 81, declares that the Mexicans believe in 
five Suns, or Ages, in times past; but these suns were of inferior quality, so 
that the soil produced its fruits only in a crude and imperfect state. The 
consequence was that in every case the inhabitants of the world died through 
the earing of divers things. This present and sixth Sun was good, however, 
and under its influence all things were produced properly. Torquemada — 
who has, indeed, been all along appropriating, by whole chapters, the so 
long medited work of Mendieta; and that, if we believe Icazbalceta, Hist, 
Eiles., Notitias del Autor., pp. xxx. to xlv., under circumstances of peculiar 
turpitude — of course gives also five past Ages, repeating Mendieta word for 
word with the exception of a single 'la.' Monarq. hid., torn, ii., p. 79. 
Vol. III. 5 


Mexican tradition presenting some analogies to the story 
of Xoah and his ark. In most of the painted manu- 
scripts supposed to relate to this event, a kind of boat is 
represented floating over the waste of water, and con- 
taining a man and a woman. Even the Tlascaltecs, the 
Zapotecs, the Miztecs, and the people of Michoacan are 
said to have had such pictures. The man is variously 
called Coxcox, Teocipactli, Tezpi, andXata; the woman 
Xochiquetzal and Xena. 21 

The following has been usually accepted as the ordi- 
nary Mexican version of this myth: In Atonatiuh, the 
Age of Water, a great flood covered all the face of the 
earth, and the inhabitants thereof were turned into 
fishes. Only one man and one woman escaped, saving 
themselves in the hollow trunk of an ahahuete or bald 
cypress ; the name of the man being Coxcox, and that of 
of his wife Xochiquetzal. On the waters abating a little 
they grounded their ark on the Peak of Colhuacan, the 
Ararat of Mexico. Here they increased and multiplied, 
and children began to gather about them, children who 
were all born dumb. And a dove came and gave them 
tongues, innumerable languages. Only fifteen of the 
descendants of Coxcox, who afterward became heads of 
families, spake the same language or could at all under- 
stand each other; and from these fifteen are descended 
the Toltecs, the Aztecs, and the Acolhuas. This dove 
is not the only bird mentioned in these deluvial tra- 
ditions, and must by no means be confounded with the 
birds of another palpably Christianized story. For in 
Michoacan a tradition was preserved, following which 
the name of the Mexican Xoah was Tezpi. With better 
fortune than that ascribed to Coxcox, he was able to 
save, in a spacious vessel, not only himself and his wife, 

24 Professor J. G. Miiller, Amerikanische Urreligionen, p. 568, remarks of 
these two personages: 'Rein nordisch ist der chichimekische Coxcox, der 
schon bei der Fluthsage genannt wurde, der Tezpi der Mechoakaner. Das 
ist audi urspriinglich ein Wassergott und Fischgott, darnm tragt er auch den 
Namen Cipactli, Fisch, Teocipactli, gottlicher Fisch, Huehuetonacateoci- 
pactli, alter Fischgott von unserem Fleisch. Darum ist audi seine Gattiu 
eine Pilanzengottin mit Namen Xochiquetzal d. h. gefliigelte Blume.' 


but also his children, several animals, and a quantity of 
grain for the common use. When the waters began to 
subside, he sent out a vulture that it might go to and 
fro on the earth and bring him word again when the dry 
land began to appear. But the vulture fed upon the 
carcasses that were strew r ed in every part, and never re- 
turned. Then Tezpi sent out other birds, and among 
these was a humming-bird. And when the sun began to 
cover the earth with a new verdure, the humming-bird 
returned to its old refuge bearing green leaves. And 
Tezpi saw that his vessel was aground near the moun- 
tain of Colli uacan and he landed there. 

The Mexicans round Cholula had a special legend ? 
connecting the escape of a remnant from the great del- 
uge with the often-mentioned story of the origin of the 
people of Anahuac from Chicomoztoc, or the Seven 
Caves. At the time of the cataclysm, the country, ac- 
cording to Pedro de los Rios, was inhabited by giants. 
Some of these perished utterly ; others w^ere changed in- 
to fishes; while seven brotbers of them found safety by 
closing themselves into certain caves in a mountain 
called Tlaloc. When the w r aters w r ere assuaged, one 
of the giants, Xelhua, surnamed the Architect, went to 
Cholula and began to build an artificial mountain, 
as a monument and a memorial of the Tlaloc that 
had sheltered him and his when the angry w r aters swept 
through all the land. The bricks were made in Tlama- 
nalco, at the foot of the Sierra de Cocotl, and passed to 
Cholula from hand to hand along a file of men — whence 
these came is not said — stretching between the two places. 
Then were the jealousy and the anger of the gods 
aroused, as the huge pyramid rose slowly up, threaten- 
ing to reach the clouds and the great heaven itself; and 
the gods launched their fire upon the builders and slew 
many, so that the work w r as stopped. 25 But the half-fin- 

25 Boturini, Idea <le una Hist. pp. 113-4; Id., Catdlogo, pp. 39-40; Clavi- 

Sloria Ant. del Messico, torn, i., pp. 129-:j0, torn. ii.. p. (i; Spiegazione 

del • Tavole <!<■!. Codice Mexioano [Vaticano] tav. vii., in Ki7igsborou;jh ; s Mex- 

A ''., vol. v.. pp. B4-5; Gemelli Carreri, in Churchill's Col. Voy., vol. iv.. p. 

481; Humboldt, Vats., torn, i., pp. 114-15, torn ii., pp., 175-8; Tylor's Ana. 


ished structure, afterwards dedicated by the Cholultecs 
to Quetzalcoatl, still remains to show how well Xelhua, 
the giant, deserved his surname of the Architect. 

huac, pp. 276-7; Gondra, in Prescott, Conquista de Mexico, torn, iii., pp. 1-10. 
A careful comparison of the passages given .above will show that this whole 
story of the escape of Coxcox and his wife in a bout from a great deluge, 
and of the distribution by a bird of different languages to their descend- 
ants, rests on the interpretation of certain Aztec paintings, containing sup- 
posed pictures of a flood, of Coxcox and his wife, of a canoe or rude vessel 
o: some kind, of the mountain Culhuacan, which was the Mexican Ararat, 
and of a bird distributing languages to a number of men. Not one of 
the earliest writers on Mexican mythology, none of those personally fa- 
miliar with the natives and with their oral traditions as existing at the 
time of, or immediately after the conquest, seems to have known this 
1 -geiid; Olmos, Sahagun, Motolinia, Mendieta, Ixtlilxochitl, and Camargo, 
are all of them silent with regard to it. These facts must give rise to grave 
suspicions with regard to the accuracy of the commonly accepted version, 
notwithstanding its apparently implicit reception up to this time bj* - the most 
critical historians. These suspicions will not be lessened by the result of 
the researches of Don Jose Fernando Ramirez, Conservator of the Mexican 
National Museum, a gentleman not less remarkable for his familiarity with 
tin' language and antiquities of Mexico than for the moderation and calmness of 
]i:s critical judgments, as far as these are known. In a communication dated 
April, 1858, to Garcia y Cabas, Atlas Geogrdfico, Estadistico e Histdrico de la Be- 
j> blica Mijicana, entrega '29, speaking of the celebrated Mexican picture 
there for the first time, as he claims, accurately given to the public, — Sigiienza's 
e >py of it, as given by Gemelli Carerri, that given by Clavigero in his Storia del 
M?ssi ;o, that given by Humboldt in his Atlas Pittoresque, and that given b}' 
Xingsborough being all incorrect, — Seiior Ramirez says: — The authority of 
writers so competent as Sigiienza and Clavigero imposed silence on the in- 
Lulous, and after the illustrious Baron von Humboldt added his irresistible 
authority, adopting that interpretation, nobody doubted that "the traditions 
of the Hebrews were found among the people of America;" that, as the wise 
Baron thought, "their Coxcox, Teocipactli, or Tezpi is the Noah, Xisutrus, 
or Menou of the Asiatic families;" and that "the Cerro of Culhuacan is the 
Ararat of the Mexicans." Grand and magnificent thought, but unfortunately 
only a delusion. The blue square No. 1, with its bands or obscure lines 
of the same color, cannot represent the terrestrial globe covered with the 
waters of the flood, because we should have to suppose a repetition of the 
s u tie deluge in the figure No. 40, where it is reproduced with some of its 
principal accidents. Neither, for the same reason, do the human heads and 
the heads of birds which appear to float there, denote the submerging of men 
and animals, for it would be necessary to give the same explanation to those 
i in group No. 39. It might be argued that the group to the left (of 
No. 1), made up of a human head placed under the head of a bird, repre- 
sented phonetically the name Coxcox, and denoted the Aztec Noah; but the 
group on the right, formed of a woman's head with other symbolic figures 
above it, evidently does not express the name Xochi quetzal, which is said to 

have been that of his wife Let us now pass on to the dove giving tongues 

to the primitive men who were born mute. The commas which seem to 

oe from the beak of the bird there represented, form one of the most com- 
plex and varied symbols, in respect to their phonetic force, which are found 
in our hieroglyphic writing. In connection with animated beings they 

jignate generically the emission of the voice ... .In the group before us they 
denote purely and simply that the bird was singing or speaking — to whom? 
— to the group of persons before it, who by the direction of their faces and 
b idies show clearly and distinctly the attention with which they listened. 
Consequently the designer of the before-mentioned drawing for Clavigero, 


Yet another record remains to us of a traditional 
Mexican deluge, in the following extract from the Chimal- 
popoca Manuscript. Its words seem to have a familiar 
sound ; but it would hardly be scientific to draw from 
such a fragment any very sweeping conclusion as to its 
relationship, whether that be Quiche or Christian: — 

When the Sun, or Age, Nahui-Atl came, there had 
passed already four hundred years; then came tw T o hun- 
dred years, then seventy and six, and then mankind 
were lost and drowned and turned into fishes. The 
waters and the sky drew near each other; in a single 
day all was lost; the day Four Flower consumed all 
that there was of our flesh. And this year was the year 
Ce-Calli; on the first day, Nahui-Atl, all was lost. The 
very mountains were swallowed up in the flood and the 
waters remained, lying tranquil during fifty and two 
spring-times. But before the flood began, Titlacahuan 
had warned the man Nata and his wife Xena, saying: 

pre-occupied with the idea of signifying by it the pretended confusion of 
tongues, changed with his pencil the historic truth, giving to these figures 
opposite directions. Examining attentively the inexactitudes and errors of 
the graver and the pencil in all historical engravings relating to Mexico, it is 
seen that they are no less numerous and serious than those of the pen. The 
interpretations given to the ancient Mexican paintings by ardent imagina- 
tions led away by love of novelty or by the spirit of system, justify to a cer- 
tain point the distrust and disfavor with which the last and most distin- 
guished historian of the Conquest of Mexico (W. H. Prescott) has treated this 
interesting and precious class of historical documents. SeSor Ramirez goes 
on thus at some length to his conclusions, which reduce the original paint- 
ing to a simple record of a wandering of the Mexicans among the lakes of the 
Mexican valley, — that journey beginning at a place 'not more than nine 
miles from the gutters of Mexico,'— a record having absolutely no connection 
either with the mythical deluge, already described as one of the four destruc- 
tions of the world, or with any other. The bird speaking in the picture, he 
connects with a well-known Mexican fable given by Torquemada, in which a 
bird is described as speaking from a tree to the leaders of the Mexicans at a 
certain stage of their migration, and repeating the work Tihui, that is to say, 
1 Let us go.' A little bird called the Tihuitochan, with a cry that the vulgar still 
interpret in a somewhat similar sense, is well known in Mexico, and is per- 
haps at the bottom of the tradition. It maybe added that Torquemada gives 
a painted manuscript, possibly that under discussion, as his authority for the 
story. The boat, the mountain, and the other adjuncts of the picture are 
explained in a like simple way. as the hieroglyphics, for the most part, of 
various proper names. Our space here will not permit further details — 
though another volume will contain this picture and a further discussion of 
the subject, — but I may remark in concluding that the moderation with 
which Senior Ramirez discusses the question, as well as his great experience 
and learning in matters of Mexican antiquity, seem to claim for his views 
the serious consideration of future students. 


Make now no more pulque, but hollow out to yourselves 
a great cypress, into which you shall enter when, in the 
month Tozoztli, the waters shall near the sky. Then 
they entered into it, and when Titlacahuan had shut 
them in, he said to the man: Thou shalt eat but a single 
ear of maize, and thy wife but one also. And when 
they had finished eating, each an ear of maize, they pre- 
pared to set forth, for the waters remained tranquil and 
their log moved no longer; and opening it they began to 
see the fishes. Then they lit a fire, rubbing pieces of 
wood together, and they roasted fish. And behold the 
deities Citlallinicue and Citlallatonac looking down from 
above, cried out: divine Lord! what is this fire that 
they make there? wherefore do they so fill the heaven 
with smoke? And immediately Titlacahuan Tetzcatli- 
poca came down, and set himself to grumble, saving: 
What does this fire here? Then he seized the fishes and 
fashioned them behind and before, and changed them 
into dogs. 26 

We turn now to the traditions of some nations situated 
on the outskirts of the Mexican Empire, traditions dif- 
fering from those of Mexico, if not in their elements, at 
least in the combination of those elements. Following 
our usual custom, I give the following legend belonging 
to the Miztecs just as they themselves were accus- 
tomed to depict and to interpret it in their primitive 
scrolls : — 27 

In the 3'ear and in the day of obscurity and darkness, 
yea even before the days or the years were, when the 
world was in a great darkness and chaos, when the earth 
was covered with water and there Avas nothing but mud 
and slime on all the face of the earth, — behold a c;od 
became visible, and his name was the Deer, and his sur- 

26 Brasseur de Bourbourg, Hist, dcs Nat. Civ., torn, i., pp. 425-7. 

27 Fr. Gregorio Garcia, Origen 'de los In I., pp. 327-9, took this narrative 
from a book he found in a convent in Cuilapa, a little Indian town about a 
league and a half south of Oajaca. The book had been compiled by the 
vicar of that convent, and — ' escrito con sus Figuras, conio los Indiosde aquel 
Reino Mixteco las tenian en sus Libros, 6 Pergaminos arrollados, con la de- 
claracion de lo que significaban las Figuras, en que contaban su Origen, la 
Creacion del Mundo, i Diiuvio General.' 


name was the Lion-Snake. There appeared also a very 
beautiful goddess called the Deer, and surnamed the 
Tiger- Snake. 28 These two gods were the origin and be- 
gin ing of all the gods. 

Now when these two «ods became visible in the world, 
they made, in their knowledge and omnipotence, a great 
rock, upon which they built a very sumptuous palace, a 
masterpiece of skill, in which they made their abode 
upon earth. On the highest part of this building there 
was an axe of copper, the edge being uppermost, and on 
this axe the heavens rested. 

This rock and the palace of the gods were on a moun- 
tain in the neighborhood of the toAvn of Apoala in the prov- 
ince of Mizteca Alta. The rock was called The Place 
of Heaven; there the gods first abode on earth, living 
many years in great rest and content, as in a happy and 
delicious land, though the world still lay in obscurity 
and darkness. 

The father and mother of all the gods being here in 
their place, two sons were born to them, very handsome 
and very learned in all wisdom and arts. The first was 
called the Wind of Nine Snakes, after the name of the 
day on which he was born; and the second was called, 
in like manner, the Wind of Nine Caves. Very daintily 
indeed were these youths brought up. When the elder 
wished to amuse himself, he took the form of an eagle, fly- 
ing thus far and wide ; the younger turned himself into 
a small beast of a serpent shape, having wings that he 
used with such agility and sleight that he became invis- 
ible, and flew through rocks and walls even as through 
the air. As they went, the din and clamor of these 
brethren was heard by those over whom they passed. 
They took these figures to manifest the power that was in 
them, both in transforming themselves and in resuming 
again their original shape. And they abode in great peace 
in the mansion of their parents, so they agreed to make 

2S ' Qne ap.ireeieron visiblemente un Dios, que tuvo por Xombre un Cit rvo, 
i por sobrenoinbre Gulebra de Leon; i una Diosa mui linda, i hermosa, que su 
Xombre fue an C'krvo l por sobrenombre Cutebra de Tiyre.' Garcia, Id., pp. 


a sacrifice and an offering to these gods, to their father 
and to their mother. Then they took each a censer of 
clay, and put fire therein, and poured in ground bekuo 
for incense ; and this offering was the first that had ever 
been made in the world. Next the brothers made to 
themselves a garden, in which they put many trees, 
and fruit-trees, and flowers, and roses, and odorous herbs 
of different kinds. Joined to this garden they laid out 
a very beautiful meadow, which they fitted up with all 
things necessary for offering sacrifice to the gods. In 
this manner the two brethren left their parents' house, 
and fixed themselves in this garden to dress it and to 
keep it, watering the trees and the plants and the odor- 
ous herbs, multiplying them, and burning incense of 
powder of beleno in censers of clay to the gods, their 
father and mother. They made also vows to these gods, 
and promises, praying that it might seem good to them 
to shape the firmament and lighten the darkness of the 
world, and to establish the foundation of the earth, or 
rather to gather the waters together so that the earth 
might appear, — as they had no place to rest in save only 
one little garden. And to make their prayers more ob- 
ligatory upon the gods, they pierced their ears and 
tongues with flakes of flint, sprinkling the blood that 
dropped from the wounds over the trees and plants of the 
garden with a willow branch, as a sacred and blessed 
thing. After this sort they employed themselves, post- 
poning pleasure till the time of the granting of their de- 
sire, remaining always in subjection to the gods, their 
father and mother, and attributing to them more power 
iii id divinity than they really possessed. 

Fray Garcia here makes a break in the relation, — that 
he may not weary his readers with so many absurdities, 
— but it would appear that the firmament was arranged 
and the earth made fit for mankind, who about that time 
must also have made their appearance. For there came 
a great deluge afterwards, wherein perished many of the 
sons and daughters that had been born to the gods; and 
it is said that when the deluge was passed the human 


race was restored as at the first, and the Miztec king- 
dom populated, and the heavens and the earth estab- 

This we may suppose to have been the traditional ori- 
gin of the common people ; but the governing family of 
Mizteca proclaimed themselves the descendants of two 
youths born from two majestic trees that stood at the en- 
trance of the gorge of Apoala, and that maintained them- 
selves there despite a violent wind continually rising 
from a cavern in the vicinity. 

Whether the trees of themselves produced these youths, 
or whether some primeval vEsir, as in the Scandinavian 
story, gave them shape and blood and breath and sense, 
we know not. We are only told that soon or late the 
youths separated, each going his own way to conquer 
lands for himself. The braver of the two coming to the 
vicinity of Tilantongo, armed with buckler and bow T , was 
much vexed and oppressed by the ardent rajs of the 
sun, which he took to be the lord of that district striv- 
ing to prevent his entrance therein. Then the young 
warrior strung his bow, and advanced his buckler before 
him, and drew shafts from his quiver. He shot there 
against the great light even till the going down of the 
same; then he took possession of all that land, seeing he 
had grievously wounded the sun, and forced him to hide 
behind the mountains. Upon this story is founded the 
lordship of all the caciques of Mizteca, and upon their 
descent from this mighty archer their ancestor. Even 
to this day, the chiefs of the Miztecs blazon as their 
arms a plumed chief with bow, arrows, and shield, and 
the sun in front of him setting behind gray clouds. 29 

Of the origin of the Zapotecs, a people bordering on 
these Miztecs, Burgoa says, with a touching simplicity, 
that he could find no account worthy of belief. Their 
historical paintings he ascribes to the invention of the 
devil, affirming hotly that these people were blinder in 
such vanities than the Egyptians and the Chaldeans. 

29 Burgoa, Geoj. Descri})., torn i., fol. 128, 17G. 


Some, lie said, to boast of their valor made themselves 
out the sons of lions and divers wild beasts; others, 
grand lords of ancient lineage, were produced by the 
greatest and most shady trees ; while still others of an 
unyielding and obstinate nature, were descended from 
rocks. Their language, continues the worthy Provincial, 
striking suddenly and by an undirected shot the very 
center of mythological interpretation, — their language 
was full of metaphors; those who wished to persuade 
spake always in parables, and in like manner painted 
their historians. 30 

In Guatemala, according to the relations given to Fa- 
ther Geronimo Roman by the natives, it was believed 
there was a time when nothing existed but a certain 
divine Father called Xchmel, and a divine Mother called 
Xtmana. To these were born three sons, 31 the eldest of 
whom, filled with pride and presumption, set about a 
creation contrary to the will of his parents. But he 
could create nothing save old vessels fit for mean uses, 
such as earthen pots, jugs, and things still more despicable ; 
and he was hurled into hades. Then the two 3 ounger 
brethren, called respectively Hunchevan and Hun- 
avan, prayed their parents for permission to attempt the 
work in which their brother had failed so signally. And 
they were granted leave, being told at the same time, 
that inasmuch as they had humbled themselves, they 
would succeed in their undertaking. Then they made 
the heavens, and the earth with the plants thereon, and 
fire and air, and out of the earth itself they made a man 
and a woman, — presumably the parents of the human 

According to Torquemada, there was a deluge some 
time after this, and after the deluge the people continued 
to invoke as god the great Father and the great Mother 

30 Burgoa, Geog. Descrip., fol. 196-7. 

31 One of the Las Casas MSS, gives, according to Helps, 'trece hijos ' i: 
stead of 'tres hijos;' the latter, however, being the correct reading, as tl 

i li- 

list of names in the same manuscript shows, and as Father Romangives it. 

tSe'c note 33. 


already mentioned. But at last a principal woman 32 
among them, having received a revelation from heaven, 
taught them the true name of God, and how that name 
►should be adored ; all this, however, they afterward for- 
got. 33 

In Nicaragua, a country where the principal language 
was a Mexican dialect, it was believed that ages ago 
the world was destroyed by a flood in which the most 
part of mankind perished. Afterward the teotes. or 
gods, restocked the earth as at the beginning. Whence 
came the teotes, no one knows; but the names of two 
of them who took a principal part in the creation were 
Tamagostat and Cipattonal. 34 

Leaving now the Central American region we pass 
north into the Papago country, lying south of the Gila, 
with the river Santa Cruz on the east and the Gulf of 
California on the west. Here we meet for the first time 
the cojote, or prairie wolf; we find him much more than 
an animal, something more even than a man, only a 
little lower than the gods. In the following Papago 
myth 35 he figures as a prophet, and as a minister and as- 
sistant to a certain great hero-god Montezuma, whom we 
are destined to meet often, and in many characters, as a 
central figure in the myths of the Gila valley : — 

The Great Spirit made the earth and all living things, 

32 This tradition, says the Abbe! Brasseur de Bourbourg, Hist, des Nat. 
Civ., torn, ii., pp. 74-5, has indubitably reference to a queen whose memory 
has become attached to very man}- places in Guatemala, and Central Ameri- 
ca generally. She was called Atit, Grandmother; and from her the volcano 
of Atitlan, received the name Atital-huyu, by which it is still known to the 
aborigines. This Atit lived during four centuries, and from her are descended 
all the royal and princely families of Guatemala. 

33 Roman, Rep&blica de los Indios Occidentales, part 1, lib. 2, cap. 15, after 
Garcia, Origen de los hid., pp. 32'J-30; Las Casas, Hist. Apologeiica, MS., 
cap. 235, after Helps' Span. Conq., vol. ii., p. 140; Torquemada, Monarq. 
hid., torn, ii., pp. 53—1; Brasseur de Bourbourg, Hist, des Nat. Cic, torn, ii., 
pp. 74-5. 

34 The first of these two names is erroneously spelt ' Famagoztad ' by M. 
Ternaux-Compans, Mr. Squier, and the Abb.' Brasseur de Bourbourg, the 
two latter perhaps led astray by the error of M. Ternaux-Compans, an error 
which first appeared in that gentleman's translation of Oviedo. Oviedo, 
His!. Gen., torn, iv., p. 40. Pat r Martyr, dec. vi., cap. 4. 

35 This tradition was ' gathered principally from the relations of Con 
Quien, the intelligent chief of the central Papagos.' Davidson, in hid. 
R'-pt., 1865, pp. 131-3. 


before he made man. And he descended from heaven, and 
digging in the earth, found clay such as the potters use, 
which, having again ascended into the sky, he dropped 
into the hole that he had dug. Immediately there came 
out Montezuma and, with the assistance of Montezuma, 
the rest of the Indian tribes in order. Last of all came 
the Apaches, wild from their natal hour, running away 
as fast as they were created. Those first days of the 
world were happy and peaceful da}~s. The sun was 
nearer the earth than he is now ; his grateful rays made 
all the seasons equal, and rendered garments unneces- 
saiy. Men and beasts talked together, a common lan- 
guage made all brethren. But an awful destruction 
ended this happy age. A great Hood destroyed all flesh 
wherein was the breath of life; Montezuma and his 
friend the CWote alone escaping. For before the Hood 
began, the Coyote prophesied its coming, and Montezu- 
ma took the warning and hollowed out a boat to himself, 
keeping it ready on the topmost summit of Santa Rosa. 
The Coj^ote also prepared an ark ; gnawing down a great 
cane by the river bank, entering it, and stopping up the 
end with a certain gum. So when the waters rose these 
two saved themselves, and met again at last on dry land 
after the flood had passed away. Naturally enough Mon- 
tezuma was now anxious to know how much dr} 7 land 
had been left, and lie sent the Co}X)te off on four succes- 
sive journeys, to find exactly where the sea lay toward 
each of the four winds. From the west and from the 
south, the answer swiftly came: The sea is at hand. A 
longer search was that made towards the east, but at last 
there too was the sea found. On the north only was no 
water found, though the faithful messenger almost 
wearied himself out with searching. In the meantime 
the Great Spirit, aided by Montezuma, had again re- 
peopled the world, and animals and men began to in- 
crease and multiply. To Montezuma had been allotted 
the care and government of the new race ; but puffed up 
with pride and self importance, he neglected the most im- 
portant duties of his onerous position, and suffered the 


most disgraceful wickedness to pass unnoticed among the 
people. In vain the Great Spirit came down to earth 
and remonstrated with his vicegerent, who only scorned 
his laws and advice, and ended at last by breaking out 
into open rebellion. Then indeed the Great Spirit was 
filled with anger, and he returned to heaven, pushing 
back the sun on his waj T , to that remote part of the sky 
he now occupies. But Montezuma hardened his heart, 
and collecting all the tribes to aid him, set about build- 
ing a house that should reach up to heaven itself. Al- 
ready it had attained a great height, and contained many 
apartments lined with gold, silver, and precious stones, 
the whole threatening soon to make good the boast of its 
architect, when the Great Spirit launched his thunder, 
and laid its glory in ruins. Still Montezuma hardened 
himself; proud and inflexible, he answered the thunderer 
out of the haughty defiance of his heart ; he ordered the 
temple-houses to be desecrated, and the holy images to 
be dragged in the dust, he made them a scoff and by- 
word for the very children in the village streets. Then 
the Great Spirit prepared his supreme punishment. He 
sent an insect flying away towards the east, towards an 
unknown land, to bring the Spaniards. When these 
came, they made war upon Montezuma and destroyed 
him, and utterly dissipated the idea of his divinity. 


3G The legendary Montezuma, whom we shall meet so often in the mythol- 
ogy of the Gila valley, must nut "be confounded with the two Mexican mon- 
archs of the same title. The name itself would seem, in the absence of proof 
to the contrary, to have been carried into Arizona and New Mexico by the 
Spaniards or their Mexican attendants, and to have become gradually associ- 
ated in the minds of some of the New Mexican and neighboring tribes, with 
a vague, mythical, and departed grandeur. The name Montezuma became 
thus, to use Mr. Tylor's words, that of the great ' Somebody' of the tribe. 
This being once the case, all the lesser heroes would be gradually absorbed 
in the greater, and their names forgotten. Their deeds would become his 
deeds, their fame his fame. There is evidence enough that this is a general 
tendency of tradition, even in historical times. The pages of Mr. Cox's 
scholaily and comprehensive work, Tfie Mythology of the Aryan, Nations, teem 
with exam] iles of it. In Persia, deeds of every kind and date are referred to 
Antar. In Ptussia, buildings of every age are declared to be the work 
of Peter the Great. All over Europe, in Germany, France, Spain, Switzer- 
land, England, Scotland, Ireland, the exploits of the oldest mythological 
iu roes figuring in the Sagas, Eddas, and Nibelungen Lied have been ascribed 
in the folk-lore and ballads of the people to Barbarossa, Charlemagne, Boab- 
dil, Charles V., William Tell, Arthur. Pobin Eood, Wallace, and St. Patrick. 


The Pimas, 37 a neighboring and closely allied people 
to the Papagos, say that the earth was made by a cer- 
tain Chiowotmahke, that is to say Earth-prophet. It 
appeared in the beginning like a spider's web. stretching 
far and fragile across the nothingness that was. Then 
the Earth-prophet flew over all lands in the form of a 
butterfly, till he came to the place he judged fit for his 
purpose, and there he made man. And the thing was 
after this wise : The Creator took clay in his hands, and 
mixing it with the sweat of his own body, kneaded the 
whole into a lump. Then he blew upon the lump till it 
was filled with life and began to move ; and it became 
man and woman. This Creator had a son called Szeu- 
kha, who. when the world was beginning to be tolerably 
peopled, lived in the Gila valley, where lived also at the 
same time a great prophet, whose name has been forgot- 
ten. Upon a certain night when the prophet slept, he 
was wakened by a noise at the door of his house, and 
when he looked, a great Eade stood before him. And 
the Eagle spake : Arise, thou that healest the sick, thou 
that shouldest know what is to come, for behold a deluge 
is at hand. But the prophet laughed the bird to scorn 
and gathered his robes about him and slept. After- 
wards the Eas;le came again and warned him of the 
waters near at hand ; but he gave no ear to the bird at 
all. Perhaps he would not listen because this Eagle had 
an exceedingly bad reputation among men, being re- 
ported to take at times the form of an old woman that 
lured away girls and children to a certain cliff so that 
they were never seen again ; of this, however, more anon. 
A third time, the Eagle came to warn the prophet, and 
to say that all the valley of the Gila should be laid waste 
with water; but the prophet gave no heed. Then, in 

The connection of the name of Montezuma with ancient buildings and legend- 
ary adventures in the mythology of the Gila valley seems to be sirnply an- 
other example of the same kind. 

37 I am indebted for these particulars of the belief of the Pimas to the 
kindness of Mr. J. H. Stout of the Pima agency. who procured me a per- 
sonal interview with five chiefs of that nation, and their very intelligent and 
obliging interpreter, Mr. Walker, at San Francisco, in October, l$7o. 


the twinkling of an eye, and even as the flapping of the 
Eagle's wings died away into the night, there came a 
peal of thunder and an awful crash ; and a green mound 
of water reared itself over the plain. It seemed to stand 
upright for a second, then, cut incessantly by the light- 
ning, goaded on like a great beast, it flung itself upon the 
prophet's hut. When the morning broke there was noth- 
ing to be seen alive but one man — if indeed he were a 
man ; Szeukha, the son of the Creator, had saved himself 
by floating on a I jail of gum or resin. On the waters fall- 
ing a little, he landed near the mouth of the Salt River, 
upon a mountain where there is a cave that can still be 
^en^ together with the tools and utensils Szeukha used 
while he lived there. Szeukha was very angry with 
the Great Eagle, who he probably thought had had more 
to do with bringing. on the flood than appears in the 
narrative. At any rate the general reputation of the 
bird was sufficiently bad, and Szeukha prepared a kind 
of rope ladder from a very tough species of tree, much 
like woodbine, with the aid of which he climbed up to 
the cliff where the Eagle lived, and slew him. 38 Looking 
about here, he found the mutilated and decaying bodies of 
a great multitude of those that the Eagle had stolen and 
taken for a prey ; and he raised them all to life again and 
sant them away to repeople the earth. In the house or 
den of the Eagle, he found a woman that the monster had 
taken to wife, and a child. These he sent also upon 
their way, and from these are descended that great peo- 
ple called Hohocam, L ancients or grandfathers,' who 
were led in all their wanderings by an eagle, and who 
eventually passed into Mexico. 30 One of these Hohocam 

38 For the killing of this Great Eagle Szeukha had to do a kind of pen- 
ance, which was never to scratch himself with his nails, but always with a 
small stick. This custom is still observed by all Piinas; and a bit of wood, 
renewed every fourth day, is carried for this purpose stuck in their long hair. 

39 With the reader, as with myself, this clause will probably call up some- 
thing more than a mere suspicion of Spanish influence tinging the incidents 
of the legend. The Pimas themselves, however, asserted that this tradition 
existed among them long before the arrival of the Spaniards and was not 
modified thereby. One fact that seems to speak for the comparative purity 
of their traditions is that the name of Montezuma is nowhere to be found in 
them, although Cremony, Apach's, p. 102, states the contrary. 


named Sivano, built the Casa Grande on the Gila, and in- 
deed the ruins of this structure are called after his name 
to this day. On the death of Sivano, his son led a 
branch of the Hohocam to Salt River, where he built 
certain edifices and dug a large canal, or acequia. At 
last it came about that a woman ruled over the Hohocam. 
Her throne was cut out of a blue stone, and a mysteri- 
ous bird was her constant attendant. These Hohocam 
were at war with a people that lived to the east of them, 
on the Rio Verde, and one day the bird warned her that 
the enemy was at hand. The warning was disregarded 
or it came too late, for the eastern people came down in 
three bands, destroyed the cities of the Hohocam, and 
killed or drove away all the inhabitants. 

Most of the Pueblo tribes call themselves the descend- 
ants of Montezuma; 40 the Moquis, however, have a quite 
different story of their origin. They believe in a great 
Father living where the sun rises; and in a great Moth- 
er, whose home is where the sun goes down. The Fa- 
ther is the father of evil, war, pestilence, and famine; 
but from the Mother are all jo}'s, peace, plenty, and 
health. In the beginning of time the Mother produced 
from her western home nine races of men in the follow- 
ing primary forms: First, the Deer race; second, the 
Sand race; third, the Water race; fourth, the Bear race; 
fifth, the Hare race; sixth, the Prairie-wolf race ; seventh, 
the Rattle-snake race; eighth, the Tobacco-plant race; 
and ninth, the Reed-s;rass race. All these the Mother 
placed respectively on the spots where their villages now 
stand, and transformed them into the men who built the 
present Pueblos. These race-distinctions are still sharp- 
ly kept up; for they are believed to be realities, not 
only of the past and present, but also of the future : every 
man when he dies shall he resolved into his primeval 
form: shall wave in the grass, or drift in the sand, or 
prowl on the prairie as in the beginning/ 


40 Gregg's Commerce of the Prairies, vol. i., p. 2G8. 

41 Ten Broec/c in Schoolcraft's Arch., vol. iv.. pp. S5-G. 


The Navajos, living north of the Pueblos, say that at 
one time all the nations, Navajos, Pueblos, Coyoteros, 
and white people, lived together, underground in the heart 
of a mountain near the river San Juan. Their only 
food was meat, which they had in abundance, for all 
kinds of game were closed up with them in their cave ; 
but their light was dim and only endured for a few 
hours each day. There were happily two dumb men 
among the Navajos, flute-players who enlivened the dark- 
ness with music. Ohe of these striking by chance on 
the roof of the limbo with his flute, brought out a hol- 
low sound, upon which the elders of the tribes deter- 
mined to bore in the direction whence the sound came. 
The flute was then set up against the roof, and the llac- 
coon sent up the tube to dig a way out ; but he could 
not. Then the Moth- worm mounted into the breach, 
and bored and bored till he found himself suddenly on 
the outside of the mountain and surrounded by water. 
Under these novel circumstances, he heaped up a little 
mound and set himself down on it to observe and pon- 
der the situation. A critical situation enough ! for, from 
the four corners of the universe, four great white Swans 
bore down upon him, every one with two arrows, one 
under either wing. The Swan from the north reached 
him first, and having pierced him with tw r o arrows, drew 
them out and examined their points, exclaiming as the 
result: He is of my race. So also, in succession, did all 
the others. Then they went away ; and towards the di- 
rections in which they departed, to the north, south, east, 
and west, were found four great arroyos, by which all 
the water flowed off, leaving only mud. The worm now 
returned to the cave, and the Raccoon went up into the 
mud, sinking in it mid-leg deep, as the marks on his fur 
show to this day. And the wind began to rise, sweep- 
ing up the four great arroyos, and the mud was dried 
away. Then the men and the animals began to come, 
up from their cave, and their coming up required sever- 
al days. First came the Xavajos, and no sooner had 

Vol. III., 6. 


they reached the surface then they commenced gaming 
at palate, their favorite game. Then came the Pueblos 
and other Indians who crop their hair and build houses. 
Lastly came the white people, who started off at once for 
the rising sun and were lost sight of for many winters. 

While these nations lived underground they all spake 
one tongue ; but with the light of day and the level of 
earth, came many languages. The earth was at this 
time very small and the light was quite as scanty as it 
had been down below ; for there was as }~et no heaven, 
nor sun, nor moon, nor stars. So another council of the 
ancients was held and a committee of their number ap- 
pointed to manufacture these luminaries. A large house 
or workshop was erected ; and when the sun and moon 
were ready, the}^ were entrusted to the direction and 
guidance of the two dumb fluters already mentioned. 
The one who got charge of the sun came very near, 
through his clumsiness in his new office, to making a 
Phaethon of himself and setting fire to the earth. The 
old men, however, either more lenient than Zeus or lack- 
ing his thunder, contented themselves with forcing the 
offender back by puffing the smoke of their pipes into 
his face. Since then the increasing size of the earth 
has four times rendered it necessary that he should be 
put back, and his course farther removed from the world 
and from the subterranean cave to which he nightly re- 
tires with the great light. At night also the other dumb 
man issues from this cave, bearing the moon under his 
arm, a id lighting up such part of the world as he can. 
Xext the old men set to work to make the heavens, in- 
tending to broider in the stars in beautiful patterns, of 
bears, birds, and such things. But ji s': as the}' had 
made a beginning a prairie-wolf rushed in, and crying 
out : Why all this trouble and embroidery ? scattered the 
pile of stars over all the floor of heaven, just as they 
still lie. 

When now the world and its firmament had been fin- 
ished, the old men prepared two earthen tinages or water- 
jars, and having decorated one with bright colors, filled 


it with trifles ; while the other was left plain on the out- 
side, but filled within with Hocks and herds and riches 
of all kinds. These jars being covered and presented to 
the Xavajos and Pueblos, the former chose the gaudy 
but paltry jar; while the Pueblos received the plain and 
rich vessel; each nation showing in its choice traits 
which characterize it to this day. Xext there arose 
among the Xavajos a great gambler, who went on win- 
ning the goods and the persons of his opponents till he 
had won the whole tribe. Upon this, one of the old 
men became indignant, set the gambler on his bow- 
string and shot him off into space, — an unfortunate pro- 
ceeding, for the fellow returned in a short time with lire- 
arms and the Spaniards. Let me conclude by telling 
how the Xavajos came by the seed they now cultivate : 
All the Avise men being one day assembled, a turkey-hen 
came Hying from the direction of the morning star, and 
shook from her feathers an ear of blue corn into the 
midst of the company; and in subsequent visits brought 
all the other seeds they possess/ 2 

Of some tribes, we do not know that they possess any 
other ideas of their origin than the name of their first 
ancestor, or the name of a creator or a tradition of his 

The Sinaloas, from Culiacan north to the Yaqui River, 
have dances in honor of a certain Viriseva, the mother 
of the first man. This first man. who was her son, and 
called Vairubi, they hold in like esteem.- 3 The Cochimis, 
of Lower California, amid an apparent multiplicity of 
gods, say there is in reality only one, who created 
heaven, earth, plants, animals, and man. 44 The Pericues, 
also of Lower California, call the creator Xiparay a, and 
my that the heavens are his dwelling-place. A sect of 

< 2 Ten Broeck in Schoolcraft's Arch.., vol. iv., pp. 89-00; and Eaton, H>., 
pp. 218-9. The latter account differs a little from that given in the text, and 
makes the following addition: After the Xavajos came up from the cave, there 
came a time when, by the ferocity of giants and rapacious animals, their 
numbers were reduced to three — an old man, an old woman, and a young 
woman. The stock was replenished by the latter bearing a child to the sun. 

« Ribas, Hist., pp. is, 40. 

41 Clavigero, Storia delta Col., torn i., p. 139. 


the same tribe, add that the stars are made of metal, and 
are the work of a certain Purutabui ; while the moon has 
been made by one Cucunumic. 45 

The nations of Los Angeles County, California, believe 
that their one god, Quaoar, came down from heaven; 
and, after reducing chaos to order, put the world on the 
back of seven giants. He then created the lower ani- 
mals, and lastly a man and a woman. These were made 
separately out of earth and called, the man Tobohar, and 
the woman Pabavit, 46 

Hugo Reicl, to whom we are mainly indebted for the 
mythology of Southern California, and who is an excel- 
lent authority, inasmuch as his wife was an Indian woman 
of that country, besides the preceding gives us another 
and different tradition on the same subject : Two great 
Beings made the world, filled it with grass and trees, and 
gave form, life, and motion to the various animals that 
people land and sea. When this work was done, the 
elder Creator went up to heaven and left his brother 
alone on the earth. The solitary god left below, made to 
himself men-children, that he should not be utterly com- 
panionless. Fortunately also, about this time, the moon 
came to that neighborhood ; she was very fair in her 
delicate beauty, very kind hearted, and she filled the 
place of a mother to the men-children that the god had 
created. She watched over them, and guarded them 
from all evil things of the night, standing; at the door of 
their lodge. The children grew up very happily, lay- 
ing great store by the love with which their guardians 
regarded them; but there came a day when their heart 
saddened, in which they began to notice that neither 
their god-creator nor their moon foster-mother gave them 
any longer undivided affection and care, but that in- 
stead, the two great ones seemed to waste much precious 
love upon each other. The tall god began to steal out 
of their lodge at dusk, and spend the night watches in 
the company of the white-haired moon, who, en the 

i'> Clavigero, Storia della Cal., torn. i.. pp. 135-7. 
4 " Hugo Reid, in Los Angeles Star. 


other hand, did not seem on these occasions to pay such 
absorbing attention to her sentinel duty as at other times. 
The children grew sad at this, and bitter at the heart 
with a boyish jealousy. But worse was yet to come: 
one night they were awakened by a querulous wail- 
ing in their lodge, and the earliest dawn showed them 
a strange thing, which they afterwards came to know 
was a new-born infant, lying in the doorway. The god 
and the moon had eloped together; their Great One 
had returned to his place beyond the sether, and that he 
might not be separated from his paramour, he had appoint- 
ed her at the same time a lodge in the great firmament ; 
where she may yet be seen, with her gauzy robe and 
shining silver hair, treading celestial paths. The child 
left on the earth was a girl. She grew up very soft, 
very bright, very beautiful, like her mother; but like 
her mother also, so fickle and frail! She was the 
first of woman-kind, from her are all other women 
descended, and from the moon; and as the moon changes 
so they all change, say the philosophers of Los An- 
geles. 47 ' 

A much more prosaic and materialistic origin is that 
accorded to the moon in the traditions of the Gallino- 
meros of Central California. 43 In the beginning, they 
say, there was no light, but a thick darkness covered all 
the earth. Man stumbled blindly against man and 
against the animals, the birds clashed together in the 
air, and confusion reigned everywhere. The Hawk 
happening by chance to fly into the face of the Coyote, 
there followed mutual apologies and afterwards a long 
discussion on the emergency of the situation. Deter- 
mined to make some effort toward abating the public 
evil, the two set about a remedy. The Coyote gathered 
a great heap of tules, rolled them into a ball, and gave it 
to the Hawk, together with some pieces of flint, Gather- 
ing all together as well as he could, the Hawk flew 
straight up into the sky, where he struck fire with the 

« Hugo Reid, lb. 

48 Russian River Valley, Sonoma County. 


flints, lit his ball of reeds, and left it there, whirling 
along all in a fierce red glow as it continues to the pres- 
ent ; for it is the sun. In the same way the moon was 
made, but as the tules of which it was constructed were 
rather damp, its light has been always somewhat uncer- 
tain and feeble. 49 

In northern California, we find the Mattoles, 50 who 
connect a tradition of a destructive Hood with Taylor 
Peak, a mountain in their locality, on which they 
say their forefathers took refuge. As to the creation, 
they teach that a certain Big Man began by making 
the naked earth, silent and bleak, with nothing of 
plant or animal thereon, save one Indian, who roamed 
about in a wofully hungry and desolate state. Sudden- 
ly there rose a terrible whirlwind, the air grew dark 
and thick with dust and drifting sand, and the Indian 
fell upon his face in sore dread. Then there came a 
great calm, and the man rose and looked, and lo, all the 
earth was perfect and peopled; the grass and the trees 
were green on every plain and hill; the beasts of the 
fields, the fowls of the air, the creeping things, the things 
that swim, moved everywhere in his sight, There is a 
limit set to the number of the animals, which is this: 
only a certain number of animal spirits are in existence ; 
when one beast dies, his spirit immediately takes up its 
abode in another body, so that the whole number of ani- 
mals is always the same, and the original spirits move in 
an endless circle of earthy immortality.' 1 

We pass now to a train of myths in which the Coyote 
again appears, figuring in many important and some- 
what mystical rules, — figuring in fact as the great Some- 
body of many tribes. To him, though involuntarily as 
i: appears, are owing the fish to be found in Clear Lake. 
The story runs that one summer long ago there was a 
terrible drought in that region, followed by a plague of 
grasshoppers. The Coyote ate a great quantity of these 

« Powers' Porno, MS. 
so Humboldt County. 
^ Powers' I'omo, MS. 


grasshoppers, and drank up the whole lake to quench his 
thirst. After this he lay down to sleep off the effects of 
his extraordinary repast, and while he slept a man came 
up from the south country and thrust him through with 
a spear. Then all the water he had drunk flowed back 
through his wound into the lake, and with the water the 
grasshoppers he had eaten; and these insects became 
fishes, the same that still swim in Clear Lake. 52 

The Californians in most cases describe themselves as 
originating from the* Coyote, and more remotely, from 
the very soil they tread. In the language of Mr. 
Powers, — whose extended personal investigations give 
him the right to speak with authority, — " xUl the abo- 
riginal inhabitants of California, without exception, 
believe that their first ancestors were created directly 
from the earth of their respective present dwelling- 
places, and, in very many cases, that these ancestors were 
coj'otes." 53 

The Potoyantes give an ingenious account of the 
transformation of the first coyotes into men: There was 
an age in which no men existed, nothing but coyotes. 
When one of these animals died, his body used to breed 
a multitude of little animals, much as the carcass of the 
huge Ymir, rotting in Ginnunga-gap, bred the maggots 
that turned to dwarfs. The little animals of our story 
were in reality spirits, which, after crawling about for a 
time on the dead coyote, and taking all kinds of shapes, 
ended by spreading wings and floating off to the moon. 
This evidently would not do; the earth was in danger 
of becoming depopulated ; so the old coyotes took coun- 
sel together if perchance they might devise a reined}'. 
The result was a general order that, for the time to come, 
all bodies should be incinerated immediately after death. 
Thus originated the custom of burning the dead, a 
custom still kept up among these people. We next learn, 
— what indeed might have been expected of animals of 
such wisdom and parts, — that these primeval coyotes 

6-2 p„ ? ,- r . s >' Porno, MS. 
53 Powers' Fomo, MS. 


began by degrees to assume the shape of men. At first, 
it is true, with many imperfections ; but, a toe, an ear, 
a hand, bit by bit, they were gradually builded up into 
the perfect form of man looking upward. For one 
thing they still grieve, however, of all their lost estate, — 
their tails are gone. An acquired habit of sitting up- 
right, has utterly erased and destroyed that beautiful 
member. Lost is indeed lost, and gone is gone for ever, 
3^et still when in dance and festival, the Poto}~ante 
throws off the weary burden of hard and utilitarian care, 
he attaches to himself, as nearly as may be in the ancient 
place, an artificial tail, and forgets for a happy hour the 
degeneracy of the present in simulating the glory of the 
past. 54 

The Californians tell again of a great flood, or at least 
of a time when the whole country, with the exception of 
Mount Diablo and Reed Peak, was covered with water. 
There was a Coyote on the peak, the only living thing 
the wide world over, and there w T as a single feather toss- 
ing about on the rippled water. The Coyote was look- 
ing at the feather, and even as he looked, flesh and 
bones and other feathers, came and joined themselves 
to the first, and became an Ea^le. There was a stir on 
the water, a rush of broad pinions, and before the 
widening circles reached the island-hill, the bird stood 
beside the astonished Coyote. The two came soon to be 
acquainted and to be good friends, and they made occa- 
sional excursions together to the other hill, the Eagle 
flying leisurely overhead while the Coyote swam. After 
a time they began to feel lonely, so they created men ; and 
as the men multiplied the waters abated, till the dry land 
came to be much as it is at present. 

]S T ow, also, the Sacramento River and the San Joaquin 
began to find their way into the Pacific, through the 
mountains which, up to this time, had stretched across 
the mouth of San Francisco Bay. Xo Poseidon clove 
the hills with his trident, as when the pleasant vale of 
Tempe was formed, but a strong earthquake tore the 

54 Johnston, in Schoolcraft's Arch., vol. iv., pp. 221-5. 


rock apart and opened the Golden Gate between the 
waters within and those without. Before this there had 
existed only two outlets for the drainage of the whole 
country ; one was the Russian River, and the other the 
San Juan. 55 

The natives in the vicinity of Lake Tahoe, ascribe 
its origin to a great natural convulsion. There was 
a time, they say, when their tribe possessed the whole 
earth, and were strong, numerous, and rich; but a day 
came in which a people rose up stronger than they, 
and defeated and enslaved them. Afterwards the 
Great Spirit sent an immense wave across the conti- 
nent from the sea, and this wave engulfed both 
the oppressors and the oppressed, all but a very small 
remnant. Then the taskmasters made the remaining 
people raise up a great temple, so that the}', of the 
ruling caste, should have a refuge incase of another flood, 
and on the top of this temple the masters worshiped a 
column of perpetual fire. 

Half a moon had not elapsed, however, before the 
earth was again troubled, this time with strong con- 
vulsions and thunderings, upon which the masters took 
refuge in their great tower, closing the people out. 
The poor slaves fled to the Humboldt River, and 
getting into canoes paddled for life from the awful sight 
behind them. For the land was tossing like a troubled 
sea, and casting up fire, smoke, and ashes. The flames 
went up to the very heaven and melted many stars, so 
that they rained down in molten metal upon the earth, 
forming the ore that the white men seek. The Sierra 
was mounded up from the bosom of the earth ; while 
the place where the great fort stood sank, leaving only 
the dome on the top exposed above the waters of Lake 
Tahoe. The inmates of the temple-tower clung to this 
dome to save themselves from drowning; but the Great 
Spirit walked upon the waters in his wrath, and took 
the oppressors one by one like pebbles, and threw them 
far into the recesses of a great cavern, on the east side of 

55 II. B. I), in Hesperian My., vol. iii., 1859, p. 326. 


the lake, called to this da} 7 the Spirit Lodge, where the 
waters shut them in. There must they remain till a 
last great volcanic burning, which is to overturn the 
whole earth, shall again set them free. In the depths of 
their cavern-prison they may still be heard, wailing and 
moaning, when the snows melt and the waters swell in 
the lake. 50 

We again meet the Coj'ote among the Cahrocs of 
Klamath River in Northern California. These Cahrocs 
believe in a certain Chare3'a, Old Man Above, who made 
the world, sitting the while upon a certain stool now in 
the possession of the high-priest, or chief medicine-man. 
After the creation of the earth, Chareja first made fishes, 
then the lower animals, and lastly man, upon whom was 
conferred the power of assigning to each animal its re- 
spective duties and position. The man determined to 
give each a bow, the length of which should denote the 
rank of the receiver. So he called all the animals 
together, and told them that next day, early in the 
morning, the distribution of bows would take place. 
Now the Coyote greatly desired the longest bow; and, 
in order to be in first at the division, he determined to 
remain awake all night. His anxiety sustained him for 
some time; but just before morning he gave way. and 
fell into a sound sleep. The consequence was, lie was 
last at the rendezvous, and got the shortest bow of all. 
The man took pity on his distress, however, and brought 
the matter to the notice of Chareya, who, on considering 
the circumstances, decreed that the Co\T)te should become 
the most cunning of animals, as he remains to this time. 
The Coyote was very grateful to the man for his inter- 
cession, and he became his friend and the friend of his 
children, and did many things to aid mankind as we 
shall see hereafter. 57 

The natives in the neighborhood of Mount Shasta, in 
Northern California, say that the Great Spirit made this 
mountain first of all. Boring a hole in the sky, using a 

56 Wadsworth, in Hutchinys' Col. Mag., vol. ii., 1858, pp. 356-8. 

57 Powers' Porno, MS. 


large stone as an anger, he pushed down snow and ice 
until they had reached the desired height; then he 
stepped from cloud to cloud down to the great icy pile, 
and from it to the earth, where he planted the first trees 
by merely putting his finger into the soil here and there. 
The sun began to melt the snow; the snow produced 
water ; the water ran down the sides of the mountains, 
refreshed the trees, and made rivers. The Creator 
gathered the leaves that fell from the trees, blew upon 
them, and they became birds. He took a stick and 
broke it into pieces; of the small end he made fishes; 
and of the middle of the stick he made animals, — the 
grizzly bear excepted, which he formed from the big end 
of his stick, appointing him to be master over all the 
others. Indeed this animal was then so large, strong, 
and cunning, that the Creator somewhat feared him, and 
hollowed out Mount Shasta as a wigwam for himself, 
where he might reside while on earth, in the most per- 
fect security and comfort. So the smoke was soon to be 
seen curling up from the mountain, where the Great 
Spirit and his family lived, and still live, though their 
hearth-fire is alight no longer, now that the white man 
is in the land. This was thousands of snows ago, and 
there came after this a late and severe spring-time, in 
which a memorable storm blew up from the sea, shaking 
the huge lodge to its base. The Great Spirit commanded 
his daughter, little more than an infant, to go up and 
bid the wind to be still, cautioning her at the same time 
in his fatherly way, not to put her head out into the 
blast, but only to thrust out her little red arm and make 
a sign before she delivered her message. The eager 
child hastened up to the hole in the roof, did as she 
was told, and then turned to descend; but the Eve was 
too strong in her to leave without a look at the forbidden 
world outside and the rivers and the trees, at the far 
ocean and the great waves that the storm had made as 
hoary as the forests when the snow is on the firs. She 
stopped, she put out her head to look; instantly the 
storm took her by the long hair, and blew her down to 


the earth, down the mountain side, over the smooth ice 
and soft snow, down to the land of the grizzly bears. 

Xow the grizzly bears were somewhat different then 
from what they are at present. In appearance they 
were much the same it is true ; but they walked then on 
their hind legs like men, and talked, and carried clubs, 
using the fore-limbs as men use their arms. 

There was a family of these grizzlies living at the 
foot of the mountain, at the place where the child was 
blown to. The father was returning from the hunt 
with his club on his shoulder and a vouns; elk in his 
hand, when he saw the little shivering waif lying on the 
snow with her hair all tangled about her. The old 
Grizzly, pitying and wondering at the strange forlorn 
creature, lifted it up, and carried it in to his wife to see 
what should be done. She too was pitiful, and she fed 
it from her own breast, bringing it up quietly as one of 
her family. So the girl grew up, and the eldest son 
of the old Grizzly married her, and their offspring was 
neither grizzly nor Great Spirit, but man. Yery proud 
indeed were the whole grizzly nation of the new race, 
and uniting their strength from all parts of the country, 
they built the young mother and her family a mount- 
ain wigwam near that of the Great Spirit; and this 
structure of theirs is now known as Little Mount Shasta. 
Many years passed awa} r , and at last the old grandmother 
Grizzly became very feeble and felt that she must soon 
die. She knew that the girl she had adopted was the 
daughter of the Great Spirit, and her conscience troubled 
her that she had never let him know anything of 
the fate of his child. So she called all the grizzlies 
together to the new lodge, and sent her eldest grandson 
up on a cloud to the summit of Mount Shasta, to tell 
the father that his daughter yet lived. When the 
Great Spirit heard that, he was so glad that he immedi- 
ately ran down the mountain, on the south side, toward 
where he had been told his daughter was; and such 
was the swiftness of his pace that the snow was melted 
here and there along his course, as it remains to this 


clay. The grizzlies had prepared him an honorable 
reception, and as he approached his daughter's home, he 
found them standing in thousands in two files, on either 
side of the door, with their clubs under their arms. lie 
had never pictured his daughter as aught but the little 
child he had loved so long ago ; but when he found that 
she was a mother, and that he had been betrayed into the 
creation of a new race, his anger overcame him ; he scowled 
so terribly on the poor old grandmother Grizzly that she 
died upon the spot. At this all the bears set up a fear- 
ful howl, but the exasperated father, taking his lost dar- 
ling on his shoulder, turned to the armed host, and in his 
fury cursed them. Peace! he said. Be silent for ever! 
Let no articulate word ever again pass your lips, 
neither stand any more upright; but use your hands as 
feet, and look downward until I come again! Then he 
drove them all out ; he drove out also the new race of men, 
shut to the door of Little Mount Shasta, and passed 
away to his mountain, carrying his daughter; and her 
or him no eye has since seen. The grizzlies never spoke 
again, nor stood up; save indeed when fighting for their 
life, when the Great Spirit still permits them to stand as 
in the old time, and to use their fists like men. No Indian 
tracing his descent from the spirit mother and the grizzly, 
as here described, will kill a grizzly bear; and if by an 
evil chance a grizzly kill a man in any place, that spot 
becomes memorable, and every one that passes casts a 
stone there till a great pile is thrown up. 58 

Let us now pass on, and going east and north, enter 
the Shoshone country. In Idaho there are certain famous 
Soda Springs whose origin the Snakes refer to the close 
of their happiest age. Long ago, the legend runs, when 
the cotton-woods on the Big River were no larger than 
arrows, all red men were at peace, the hatchet was 
everywhere buried, and hunter met hunter in the game- 
lands of the one or the other, with all hospitality and good- 
will. During this state of things, two chiefs, one of the 

58 Joaquin Miller's Life Amongst the Modocs, pp. 235-236, 242-6. 


Shoshone, the other of the Comanche nation, met one 
da}' at a certain spring. The Shoshone had been suc- 
cessful in the chase, and the Comanche very unlucky, 
which put the latter in rather an ill humor. So he got 
up a dispute with the other as to the importance of their 
respective and related tribes, and ended by making an 
unprovoked and treacherous attack on the Shoshone, 
striking him into the water from behind, when he had 
stooped to drink. The murdered man fell forward into 
the water, and immediately a strange commotion was 
observable there; great bubbles and spirts of gas shot 
up from the bottom of the pool, and amid a cloud of 
vapor there arose also an old white-haired Indian, armed 
with a ponderous club of elk-horn. V> ell the assassin 
knew who stood before him; the totem on the breast 
was that of \Vankanaga, the father both of the Shoshone 
and of the Comanche nations, an ancient famous for his 
brave deeds, and celebrated in the hieroglyphic pictures 
of both peoples. Accursed of two nations ! cried the old 
man, this day hast thou put death between the two 
greatest peoples under the sun; see, the blood of this 
Shoshone cries out to the Great Spirit for vengeance. And 
he dashed out the brains of the Comanche with his club, 
and the murderer fell there beside his victim into the 
spring. After that the spring became foul and bitter, 
nor even to this day can any one drink of its nauseous 
water. Then Wankanaga, seeing that it had been deiiled, 
took his club and smote a neighboring rock, and the rock 
burst forth into clear bubbling water, so fresh and so 
grateful to the palate that no other water can even be 
compared to it. 59 

Passing into Washington, we find an account of the 
origin of the falls of Falouse River and of certain native 
tribes. There lived here at one time a family of giants, 

four brothers and a sister. The sister wanted some 


beaver-fat and she begged her brothers to get it for her, 
* — no easy task, as there was only one beaver in the 

& Buxton's Aduen. in Mex., pp. 24-i-G. 


country j and lie an animal of extraordinary size and 
activity. However, like four gallant fellows, the giants 
set out to find the monster, soon catching sight of him near 
the mouth of the Palouse, then a peaceful gliding river 
with an even though winding channel. They at once 
gave chase, heading him up the river. A little distance 
up-stream they succeeded in striking him for the first time 
with their spears, but he shook himself clear, making in his 
struggle the first rapids of the Palouse, and dashed on 
up-stream. Again the brothers overtook him, pinning him 
to the river-bed with their weapons, and again the vigor- 
ous beast writhed away, making thus the second falls 
of the Palouse. Another chase, and, in a third and 
fatal attack, the four spear-shafts are struck again through 
the broad wounded back. There is a last stubborn 
struggle at the spot since marked by the great falls called 
Aputaput, a tearing of earth and a lashing of water in the 
fierce death-flurry, and the huge Beaver is dead. The 
brothers having secured the skin and fat, cut up the body 
and threw the pieces in various directions. From these 
pieces have originated the various tribes of the country, 
as the Cayuses, the Nez Perces, the Walla Wallas, and 
so on. The Cay uses sprang from the beaver's heart, and 
for this reason they are more energetic, daring, and suc- 
cessful than their neighbors. 00 

In Oregon the Chinooks and neighboring people tell 
of a pre-human demon race, called Ulhaipa by the 
Chinooks, and Sehuiab by the Clallams and Lummis. 
The Chinooks say that the human race was created by 
Italapas, the Coyote. The first men were sent into 
the world in a very lumpish and imperfect state, their 
mouth and eyes were closed, their hands and feet im- 
movable. Then a kind and powerful spirit called Ika- 
nam, took a sharp stone, opened the eyes of these poor 
creatures, and gave motion to their hands and feet. He 
taught them how to make canoes as well as all other 
implements and utensils ; and he threw great rocks into 

60 Wilkes' Nar. in U. S. Ex. Ex., vol. iv., p. 496. 


the rivers and made falls, to obstruct the salmon in their 
ascent, so that they might be easily caught. 61 

Farther north among the Ahts of Vancouver Island, 
perhaps the commonest notion of origin is that men at 
first existed as birds, animals, and fishes. AVe are told of 
a certain Quawteaht, represented somewhat contradictori- 
ly, as the first Aht that ever lived, thickset and hairy- 
limbed, and as the chief Aht deity, a purely supernatural 
being, if not the creator, at least the maker and shaper 
of most things, the maker of the land and the water, 
and of the animals that inhabit the one or the 
other. In each of these animals as at first created, there 
resided the embryo or essence of a man. One day a 
canoe came down the coast, paddled by two personages 
in the, at that time, unknown form of men. The ani- 
mals were frightened out of their wits, and fled, each 
from his house, in such haste that he left behind 
him the human essence that he usually carried in his 
body. These embryos rapidly developed into men; they 
multiplied, made use of the huts deserted by the animals, 
and became in every w r ay as the Ahts are now. There 
exists another account of the origin of the Ahts, which 
would make them the direct descendants of Quawteaht 
and an immense bird that he married, — the great Thun- 
der Bird, Tootooch, with which, under a different name 
and in a different sex, we shall become more familiar 
presently. The flapping of Tootooch's wings shook the 
hills with thunder, tootah) and when she put out her 
forked tongue, the lightning quivered across the sky. 

The Ahts have various legends of the way in which 
fire was first obtained, which legends may be reduced to 
the following: Quawteaht withheld fire, for some reason 
or other, from the creatures that he had brought into the 
world, with one exception; it was always to be found 
burning in the home of the cuttle-fish, telhooj). The 
other beasts attempted to steal this fire, but only the 

61 Franchere's Xar., p. 258; Cox's Adven., vol. i., p. 317; Gihhs' Chinook 
Vocab., pp., 11-13; Id., Clallam and Lummi Vocab., pp. 15-29; Parker's Ex- 
plor. Tour, p. 13 ( J. 


deer succeeded ; he hid a little of it in the joint of his 
hind leg, and escaping, introduced the element to general 

Not all animals, it would appear, were produced in the 
general creation; the loon and the crow had a special 
origin, being metamorphosed men. Two fishermen, 
being out at sea in their canoes, fell to quarreling, the 
one ridiculing the other for his small success in fishing. 
Finally the unsuccessful man became so infuriated by 
the taunts of his companion that he knocked him on the 
head, and stole his fish, cutting out his tongue before he 
paddled off, lest by any chance the unfortunate should 
recover his senses and gain the shore. The precaution was 
well taken, for the mutilated man reached the land and 
tried to denounce his late companion. No sound how- 
ever could he utter but something resembling the cry of a 
loon, upon which the Great Spirit, Quawteaht, became 
so indiscriminatingly angry at the whole affair that he 
changed the poor mute into a loon, and his assailant 
into a crow. So when the mournful voice of the loon 
is heard from the silent lake or river, it is still the poor 
fisherman that we hear, trying to make himself under- 
stood and to tell the hard story of his wrongs. 62 

The general drift of many of the foregoing myths 
would go to indicate a wide-spread belief in the theory 
of an evolution of man from animals. 63 Traditions are 
not wanting, however, whose teaching is precisely the 
reverse. The Salish, the Nisquallies, and the Yakimas 
of Washington, all hold that beasts, fishes, and even 
edible roots are descended from human originals. One 
account of this inverse Darwinian development is this: 
The son of the Sun — whoever he may have been — caused 
certain individuals to swim through a lake of magic oil, 
a liquid of such Circean potency that the unfortunates 

62 SproaVs Scenes, pp. 176-85, 203-14. 

63 To the examples already given of this we may add the case of the Hai- 
dahs of Queen Charlotte Island, of whom Mr. Poole. Q. Char. Isl., p. 136, 
says: ' Their descent from the crows is quite gravely affirmed and steadfastly 

Vol. III. 7 


immersed were transformed as above related. The 
peculiarities of organism of the various animals, are the 
results of incidents of their passage ; the bear dived, and 
is therefore fat all over; the goose swam high, and is 
consequently fat only up to the water-line; and so on 
through all the list. 64 

Moving north to the Tacullies of British Columbia, 
we find the Musk-rat an active agent in the work of 
creation. The flat earth, following the Tacully cosmog- 
ony, was at first wholly covered with water. On the 
water a Musk-rat swam to and fro, seeking food. Find- 
ing none there, he dived to the bottom and brought up a 
mouthful of mud, but only to spit it out again when he 
came to the surface. All this he did again and again 
till quite an island was formed and by degrees the whole 
earth. In some unexplained way this earth became 
afterwards peopled in every part, and so remained, until 
a fierce fire of several days duration swept over it, de- 
stroying all life, with two exceptions; one man and one 
woman hid themselves in a deep cave in the heart of a 
mountain, and from these two has the world been since 
repeopled. 65 

From the Tacully country we pass north and west 
to the coast inhabited by the Thlinkeets, among whom 
the myth of a great Bird, or of a great hero-deit}', whose 
favorite disguise is the shape of a bird, assumes the most 
elaborate proportions and importance. Here the name 
of this great Somebody is Yehl, the Crow or Raven, 
creator of most things, and especially of the Thlinkeets. 
(Very dark, damp, and chaotic was the world in the 
beginning; nothing with breath or body moved there 
except Yehl ; in the likeness of a raven he brooded over 
the mist, his black wings beat down the vast confusion, 
the waters went back before him and the dry land 
appeared. The Thlinkeets were placed on the earth — 
though how or when does not exactly appear — while the 
world was still irr darkness, and without sun or moon 

64 Anderson in Lord's Nat., vol. ii., p. 240. 

65 Harmon's Jour., pp. 302-3. 


or stars. A certain Thlinkeet, we are further informed, 
had a wife and a sister. Of the wife he was devour- 
ingly jealous, and when employed in the woods at his 
trade of building canoes, he had her constantly watched 
by eight red birds of the kind called Jcun. To make 
assurance surer, he even used to coop her up in a kind of 
box every time he left home. All this while his sister, 
a widow it would appear, was bringing up certain sons 
she had,* line tall fellows, rapidly approaching manhood. 
The jealous uncle could not endure the thought of their 
being in the neighborhood of his wife. So he inveigled 
them one by one, time after time, out to sea with him 
on pretense of fishing, and drowned them there. The 
poor mother was left desolate, she went to the sea-shore 
to weep for her children. A dolphin — some say a whale 
— saw her there, and pitied her; the beast told her to 
swallow a small pebble and drink some sea-water. She 
did so, and in eight months was delivered of a child. 
That child was Yehl, who thus took upon himself a 
human shape, and grew up a mighty hunter and nota- 
ble archer. One da}^ a large bird appeared to him, hav- 
ing a long tail like a magpie, and a long glittering bill 
as of metal; the name of the bird was KutzghatushL 
that is, Crane that can soar to heaven. Yehl shot the 
bird, skinned it, and whenever he wished to fly used to 
clothe himself in its skin. 

Now Yehl had grown to manhood, and he determined 
to avenge himself upon his uncle for the death of his 
brothers ; so he opened the box in which the well-guard- 
ed wife was shut up. Instantly the eight faithful birds 
flew off and told the husband, who set out for his home 
in a murderous mood. Most cunning, however, in his 
patience, he greeted Yehl with composure, and" invited 
him into his canoe for a short trip to sea. Having 
paddled out some way, he flung himself on the young 
man and forced him overboard. Then he put his canoe 
about and made leisurely for the land, rid as he thought 
of another enemy. But Yehl swam in quietly* another 
way, and stood up in his uncle's house. The baffled 


murderer was beside himself with fury, he imprecated 
with a potent curse a deluge upon all the earth, well 
content to perish himself so he involved his rival in 
the common destruction, for jealousy is cruel as the 
grave. The flood came, the waters rose and rose; but 
Yehl clothed himself in his bird-skin, and soared up to 
heaven, where he struck his beak into a cloud, and re- 
mained till the waters were assuaged. 

After this affair Yehl had many other adventures, so 
many that u one man cannot know them all," as the 
Thlinkeets say. One of the most useful things he did 
was to supply light to mankind — with whom, as appears, 
the earth had been again peopled after the deluge. Now 
all the light in the world was ' stored away in ( three 
boxes, among the riches of a certain mysterious old 
Chief, who guarded his treasure closely. Yehl set 
his wits to work to secure the boxes; he determined to 
be born into the chief's family. The old fellow had one 
daughter upon whom he doted, and Yehl transforming 
himself into a blade of grass, got into the girl's drinking-, 
cup and was swallowed by her. * In due time she gave 
birth to a son, who was Yehl, thus a second time born of 
a woman into the world. Very proud was the old chief, 
of his grandson, loving him even as he loved his daugh-. 
tef, so that Yehl came to be a decidedly spoiled child. 
He fell a crying one day, working himself, almost into a 
jit; he kicked and scratched and howled,, and turned 
the family hut into a little pandemonium as only an 
infant plague can. Tie screamed for one of the three' 
boxes; he would have a box; nothing but a box should 
ever appease him ! The indulgent grandfather gave him 
one of the boxes; he clutched it, stopped crying, and 
crawled off into the yard to play. Playing, he contrived 
to wrench the lid off, and lo ! the beautiful heaven t was 
thick with stars, and the box empty. The old marf 
wept for the loss of his stars, but he did "not scold his 
grandson, he loved him too blindly for that. Yehl had 
succeeded in getting the stars into the firmament, and 
he proceeded to repeat his successful trick, to do the like 


by the moon and sun. As may be imagined', the difficulty 
was much increased ; still he gained his end. He first 
let the moon out into the sky, and some time afterward, 
getting possession of the box that held the sun, he 
changed himself into a raven and flew away with his 
greatest prize of all. When he set up the blazing light 
in heaven, the people that saw it were at first afraid. 
Many hid themselves in the mountains, and in the 
forests, and even in the water, and were changed into 
the various kinds of animals that frequent these places. 

There are still other feats of Yehl's replete with the 
happiest consequences to mankind. There was a time, 
for instance, when all the fire in the world was hid away 
in an island of the ocean. Thither fiew the indefatigable 
deity, fetching back a brand in his mouth. The dis- 
tance, however, was so great that most of the wood was 
burned away and a part of his beak, before he reached 
the Thlinkeet shore. Arrived there, he dropped the 
embers at once, and the sparks flew about in all direc- 
tions among various sticks and stones; therefore it is 
that by striking these stones, and by friction on this wood, 
fire is always to be obtained. 

Light they now had, and fire; but one thing was still 
wanting to men ; they had no fresh water. A personage 
called. Khanukh 66 kept all the fresh water in his well, 
in an island to the east of Sitka, and over the mouth of 
the well, for its better* custody , he had built his hut. 
Yehl set out to the island in his boat, to secure the water, 
and on his way he met Khanukh himself, paddling along 
in* another" boat. v Khanukh spoke first: How long 
hast - thou been I living in the world ? Proudly Yehl 
answered: Before the .world stood in its' place, I was 
there. Yehl in his turn questioned Khanukh: But how 
long hast thou lived in the world? To which Khanukh 
replied; Ever since, the timejhatjhejivercame out from 

<& This Khanukh was the progenitor" of the Wolf family of the Thlinkeets 
even as Yehl was that of the Raven family. The influence of this wolf-deity 
seems to have been generally malign, but except in connection_with this 
water-legend, he is little mentioned in the Thlinkeet myths. 


below. 67 Then said Yehl: Thou art older than I. Upon 
this Khanukh, to show that his power was as great as 
his age, took off his hat, and there rose a dense fog, so 
that the one could no longer see the other. Yehl then 
became afraid, and cried out to Khanukh ; but Khanukh 
answered nothing. At last when Yehl found himself 
completely helpless in the darkness, he began to weep 
and howl; upon which the old sorcerer put on his hat 
again, and the fog vanished. Khanukh then invited 
Yehl to his house, and entertained him handsomely with 
many luxuries, among which was fresh water. The 
meal over, host and guest sat down, and the latter began 
a long relation of his many exploits and adventures. 
Khanukh listened as attentively as he could, but the 
story was really so interminable that he at last fell 
asleep across the cover of his well. This frustrated 
Yehl's intention of stealing the water while its owner 
slept, so he resorted to another stratagem: he put some 
filth under the sleeper, then waking him up, made him 
believe he had bewrayed himself. Khanukh, whose own 
nose abhorred him, at once hurried off to the sea to wash, 
and his deceiver as quickly set about securing the pre- 
cious water. Just as All-father Odin, the Raven-god, stole 
Suttung's mead, drinking it up and escaping in the form 
of a bird, so Yehl drank what fresh water he could, 
filling himself to the very beak, then took the form 
of a raven and attempted to fly off through the chimney 
of the hut. He stuck in the flue however, and Khanukh 
returning at that instant recognized his guest in the 
struggling bird. The old man comprehended the situa- 
tion, and quietly piling up a roaring fire, he sat down 
comfortably to watch the choking and scorching of his 
crafty guest. The raven had always been a white bird, 
but so thoroughly was he smoked in the chimney on this 
occasion that he has ever since remained the sootiest of 

67 ' Seit der Zeit, entgegnete Khanukh, als von unten die Leber heraus- 
kam.' Holmberg, Ethn. Skiz., p. Gl. What is meant by the term ' die Leber,' 
literally the particular gland of the body called in English 'the liver,' I 
cannot say; neither Holmberg or any one else, as far as my knowledge goes, 
attempting any explanation. 


fowls. At last Khanukh watching the fire, became 
drowsy and fell asleep; so Yehl escaped from the island 
with the water. He flew back to the continent, where 
he scattered it in every direction; and wherever small 
drops fell there are now springs and creeks, while the 
large drops have produced lakes and rivers. This is the 
end of the exploits of Yehl; having thus done every- 
thing necessary to the happiness of mankind, he returned 
to his habitation, which is in the east, and into which no 
other spirit, nor any man can possibly enter. 

The existing difference in language between the Thlin- 
keets and other people is one of the consequences of a 
great flood, — perhaps that Hood already described as 
having been brought on through the jealousy of the 
canoe-builder. Many persons escaped drowning by 
taking refuge in a great floating building. When the 
waters fell, this vessel grounded upon a rock, and was 
broken into two pieces; in the one fragment were left 
those whose descendants speak the Thlinkeet language, 
in the other remained all whose descendants employ a 
different idiom. 

Connected with the history of this deluge is another 
myth in which a great Bird figures. When the waters 
rose a certain mysterious brother and sister found it 
necessary to part. The name of the brother was Chethl, 
that is, Thunder or 'Lightning, and the name of the 
sister was Ahgishanakhou, which means the Under- 
ground Woman. As they separated Chethl said to her : 
Sister, you shall never see me again, but "while I live 
you shall hear my voice. Then he clothed himself in 
the skin of a great bird, and flew towards the south- 
west. His sister climbed to the top of Mount Edgecomb, 
which is near Sitka, and it opened and swallowed her 
up, leaving a great hole, or crater. ;The world itself is 
an immense flat plate supported on a pillar, and under 
the world, in silence and darkness, this Under-ground 
iWoman guards the great pillar from evil and malignant 
powers. She has never seen 'her brother since she left 
.the upper world, and she shall never see him again; but 


still, when the tempest sweeps down on Edgecomb, the 
lightning of his eyes gleams down her crater-window, 
and the thundering of his wings re-echoes through all her 
subterranean halls. 68 

The Koniagas, north of the Thlinkeets, have their 
legendary Bird and Dog, — the latter taking the place 
occupied in the mythology of many other tribes by the 
wolf or coyote. Up in heaven, according to the Koni- 
agas, there exists a great deity called Shljam Schoa. 
He created two personages and sent them down to the 
earth, and the Raven accompanied them carrying light. 
This original pair made sea, rivers, mountains, forests, 
and such things. Among other places they made the 
Island of Kadiak, and so stocked it that the present 
Koniagas assert themselves the descendants of a Dog. 09 

The Aleuts of the Aleutian Archipelago seem to dis- 
agree upon their origin. Some say that in the beginning 
a Bitch inhabited Unalaska, and that a great Dog swam 
across to her from Kadiak; from which pair the human 
race have sprung. Others, naming the bitch-mother of 
their race Mahakh. describe a certain Old Man, called 
Iraghdadakh, who came from the north to visit this 
Mahakh. The result of this visit was the birth of two 
creatures, male and female, with such an extraordinary 
mixing up of the elements of nature in them that they 
were each half man half fox. The name of the male 
creature was Acagnikakh, and by -the other creature he 
became father of the human race. The Old Man how- 
ever seems hardly to have needed any help to people the 
world, for like the great patriarch of Thessaty, he was 
able to create men by merely casting stones on the earth. 
He flung also other stones into the air, into the water, 
and over the land, thus making beasts, birds, and fishes. 
In another version of the narrative, the first father of the 

63 Barrett-LennarrVs Trav., pp. 54-7; Holmherg, Ethn. Skiz., pp. 14, 52-63; 
Baer, Stat. u. Ethn., pp. 93-100; DalVs Alaska, pp. 421-22; Marfie's Vane. 
Isl., pp 452-5; Richardson's Jour., vol. i., p. 405; Mayne's B.C,. p. 272. 

69 Baer, Stat. u. Ethn., p. 116; Lisiansky's Voy., pp. 197-8; DaWs Alaska, 
p. 405; Holmherg, Ethn. Skiz., p. 140. 


Aleuts is said to have fallen from heaven in the shape 
of a dog. 70 

In the legends of the Tinneh, living inland, north-east 
of the Koniagas, the familiar Bird and Dog again appear. 
These legends tell us that the world existed at first as a 
great ocean frequented only by an immense Bird, the 
beating of whose wings was thunder, and its glance light- 
ning. This great flying monster descended and touched 
the waters, upon which the earth rose up and appeared 
above them; it touched the earth, and therefrom came 
every living creature, — except the Tinneh, who owe their 
origin to a Dog. Therefore it is that to this day a dog's 
flesh is an abomination to the Tinneh, as are also all 
who eat such flesh. A few years before Captain Frank- 
lin's visit they almost ruined themselves by following the 
advice of some fanatic reformer. Convinced by him of 
the wickedness of exacting labor from their near rela- 
tions, the dogs, they got rid at once of the sin and of 
all temptation to its recommission, by killing every cur in 
their possession. 

To return to the origin of the Tinneh, the wonderful 
Bird before mentioned made and presented to them a 
peculiar arrow, which they were to preserve for all time 
with great care. But they would not; they misappro- 
priated the sacred shaft to some common use, and imme- 
diately the great Bird flew away never to return. With 
its departure ended the Golden Age of the Tinneh, — an 
age in which men lived till their throats were worn 
through with eating, and their feet with walking. 71 

Belonging to the Northern-Indian branch of the Tin- 
neh we find a narrative in which the Dog holds a promi- 
nent place, but in which we find no mention at all of 
the Bird: The earth existed at first in a chaotic state, 
with only one human inhabitant, a woman who dwelt in 
a cave and lived on berries. While gathering these one 
day, she encountered an animal like a dog, which followed 

70 Choris, Voy. Pitt., pt. vii., p. 7; Kotzebue's Voy., vol. ii., p., 1G5. 
7i Dunn's Oregon, pp. 102, et seq; Schoolcraft's Arch, vol. v., p. 173; 
Mackenzie's Voy., p. cxviii.; Franklin's Nar., vol. i., pp. 249-50. 


her home. This Dog possessed the power of transform- 
ing himself into a handsome young man, and in this 
shape he became the father by the woman of the first 
men. In course of time a giant of such height that his 
head reached the clouds, arrived on the scene and fitted 
the earth for its inhabitants. He reduced the chaos to 
order; he established the land in its boundaries, he 
marked out with his staff the position or course of the 
lakes, ponds, and rivers. Next he slew the Dog and tore 
him to pieces, as the four giants did the Beaver of the 
Palouse River, or as the creating iEsir did Aurgelmir. 
Unlike the four brothers, however, and unlike the sons 
of Bor, this giant of the Tinneh used the fragments not 
to create men or things, but animals. The entrails of 
the dog he threw into the water, and every piece became 
a fish ; the flesh he scattered over the land, and every 
scrap became an animal ; the bits of skin he sowed upon 
the wind, and they became birds. All these spread over 
the earth, and increased and multiplied ; and the giant 
gave the woman and her progeny power to kill and eat 
of them according to their necessities. After this he 
returned to his place, and he has not since been heard 
of. 72 

Leaving now this division of our subject, more par- 
ticularly concerned with cosmogony, it may not be amiss 
to forestall possible criticism as to the disconnected man- 
ner in which the various myths are given. I have but 
to repeat that the mythology with which we have to 
deal is only known in fragments, and to submit that a 
broken statue, or even a broken sherd, of genuine 
or presumably genuine antiquity, is more valuable to 
science and even to poetry, than the most skillful ideal 

Further, the absence of any attempt to form a con- 
nected whole out of the myths that come under our 
notice cannot but obviate that tendency to alter in out- 
line and to color in detail which is so insensibly natural 
to any mythographer prepossessed with the spirit of a 

72 Hearne's Journey, pp. 342-3. 


system. In advancing lastly the opinion that the dis- 
connected arrangement is not only better adapted toward 
preserving the original myths in their integrity, but is 
also better for the student, I may be allowed to close the 
chapter with the second of the Rules for the Inter- 
pretation of Mythes given by so distinguished an au- 
thority as Mr. Keightley: "In like manner the mythes 
themselves should be considered separately, and detached 
from the system in which they are placed ; for the single 
mythes existed long before the system, and were the prod- 
uct of other minds than those which afterwards set them 
in connection, not unfrequently without fully under- 
standing them." 73 

73 V, 

Kek/htley'8 Myth, of Ancient Greece and Italy, p. 14, 



Sun, Moon, and Staes — Eclipses— The Moon Peesonified in the Land 


How the Feog Lost His Tail — How the Coyote Stole Flee for 
the Nayajos — Wind and Thunder — The Foue Winds and the Ceoss 
— Watee, the First of Elemental Things —Its Saceed and Cleans- 
ing Powee — Earth and Sky — Eaethquakes and Volcanoes — Moun- 
tains — How the Hawk and Ceow Built the Coast Range — The 
Mountains of Yosemite. 

Fetichism seems to be the physical philosophy of man 
in his most primitive state. He looks on material things 
as animated by a life analogous to his own, as having a 
personal consciousness and character, as being severally 
the material body that contains some immaterial essence 
or soul. A child or a savage strikes or chides any object 
that hurts him, and caresses the gewgaw that takes his 
fancy, talking to it much as to a companion. 

Let there be something peculiar, mysterious, or danger- 
ous about the thing and the savage worships it, deprecates 
its wrath and entreats its favor, with such ceremonies, 
prayers, and sacrifices as he may deem likely to win 
upon its regard. In considering such cases mythologic- 
ally, it will be necessary to examine the facts to see 
whether we have to deal with simple fetichism or with 
idolatry. That savage worships a fetich who worships 
the heaving sea as a great living creature, or kneels to 
flame as to a hissing roaring animal ; but the Greeks in 
.conceiving a separate anthropomorphic god of the sea or 


of the fire, and in representing that god by figures of 
different kinds, were only idolaters. The two things* 
however, are often so merged, into each other that it 
becomes difficult or impossible to say in many instances 
whether a particular object, for example the sun, is 
regarded as the deity or merely as the representation or 
symbol of the deity. It is plain enough, however, that 
a tolerably distinct element of fetichism underlies much 
of the Indian mythology., Speaking of this mythology 
in the mass, the North American Review says: " A 
mysterious and inexplicable power resides in inanimate 
things. They, too, can listen to the voice of man, and 
influence his life for evil or for good. Lakes, rivers, and 
waterfalls are sometimes the dwelling-place of spirits, 
but more frequently they are themselves living beings, to 
be propitiated by prayers and offerings." * 

The explicit worship of the sun and more or less that 
of other heavenly bodies, or at least a recognition of 
some supernatural power resident in or connected with 
them, was widely spread through Mexico, as well among 
the uncivilized as among the civilized tribes. The wild 
Chichimecs or that portion of the wild tribes of Mexico to 
which Alegre applied this name, owned the sun as their 
deity, as did also the people of the Nayarit country. 2 

In what we may call civilized Mexico, the sun was 
definitely worshiped under the name of Tonatiuh, the 
Sun in his substance, and under that of Naolin, the Sun 
in his four motions. He was sometimes represented by 
a human face surrounded with rays, at other times by a 
full-length human figure, while again he often seems to 
be confused or connected with the element fire and the 
god of fire. Sahagun, for instance, usually speaks of 
the festival of the month Itzcalli as appertaining to the 
god of fire, but in at least one place he describes it as 
belonging to the sun and the fire. 3 The sun, it is toler- 

i North Am. Rev., vol. ciii., p. 1. 

2 Alegre, Hist. Comp. de Jesus, torn, i., p. 279; Apostolicos Afanes, p. G3. 

3 Sahagun, Hist. Gen., torn, i., lib. ii., pp. 74-5, 200-18; Explication del 
Codex Tdleriano-Remmsis, parte ii., lam. x., in Kingsborough's Mex. Antiq., 
vol. v., p. 139; Spiegazione delle Tavole del Codice (VaticanoJ tav. 


ably certain, held, if not the highest place, one not far 
removed from that position in the Mexican pantheon. 
Brasseur de Bourbourg, Tylor, Squier, and Schoolcraft 
agree in considering sun-worship the most radical reli- 
gious idea of all civilized American religions. 4 Pro- 
fessor Miiller considers the sun-god and the supreme 
Mexican Teotl to be identical. 5 Dr. Brinton, as we shall 
see when we come to notice the mythology of fire, while 
not denying the prominence of the sun-cult, would refer 
that cult to a basal and original fire-worship. Many 
interpreters of mythology see also the personification of 
the sun in others of the Mexican gods besides Tonatiuh. 
More especially does evidence seem to point strongly in 
this direction in the case of Quetzalcoatl, as will be seen 
when we come to deal with this god. 

The Mexicans were much troubled and distressed by 
an eclipse of the sun. They thought that he was much 
disturbed and tossed about by something, and that he 
was becoming seriously jaundiced. This was the occa- 
sion of a general panic, women weeping aloud, and men 
howling and shouting and striking the hand upon the 
mouth. There was an immediate search for men with 
white hair and white faces, and these were sacrificed to the 
sun, amid the din and tumult of singing and musical in- 
struments. It was thought that should the eclipse become 
once total, there would be an end of the light, and that 
in the darkness the demons would come down to the 
devouring of the people. 6 

xxv. and xxxiii., in Eingsborough' s Mex. Antlq., vol. v., pp. 178, 181-2; Mendieta, 
Hist. Ecles., pp. 8J-1; Clavigero, Storia Ant. del Messico, torn, ii., pp. 9, 11, 
17, 31-5. 

4 Brasseur de Bourbourg, Hist, des Nat. Civ., torn, iii., p. 301; Brasseur de 
Bourbourg, Quatre Lettres, p. 15(3; Tylor's Prim. Cult., vol. ii., pp. 259, '262 
-3; Squier's Serpent Symbol, pp. 18-20; Schoolcraft's Arch., vol. iii., p. 60, 
vol. iv., p. 639, vol. v., pp. 29-87, vol. vi., pp. 591, 626, 636. 

5 Midler, Amerikanischk Urreligionen, p. 171. 

6 Sahagun, Hist. Gen., torn, ii., lib. vii., pp. 211-5. In Campeche, in 
1831, M. Waldeck witnessed an eclipse of the moon during which the Yuca- 
tecs conducted themselves much as their fathers might have done in their 
gentile days, howling frightfully and making every effort to part the celestial 
combatants. The only apparent advance made on the old customs was the 
firing off of muskets, ' to prove ' in the words of the sarcastic artist, ' that the 
Yucatecs of to-day are not strangers to the progress of civilization.' Waldeck, 
Voy. Pitt., p. 11. 


The Tlascaltecs, regarding the sun and the moon as 
husband and wife, believed eclipses to be domestic quar- 
rels, whose consequences were likely to be fatal to the 
world if peace could not be made before things proceeded 
to an extremity. To sooth the ruffled spirit of the sun 
when he was eclipsed, a human sacrifice was offered to 
him of the ruddiest victims that could be found ; and 
when the moon was darkened she was appeased with 
the blood of those white-complexioned persons commonly 
known as Albinos. 7 

The idea of averting the evil by noise, in case of an 
eclipse either of the sun or moon, seems to have been a 
common one among other American tribes. Alegre 
ascribes it to the natives of Sonora in general. Ribas 
tells how the Sinaloas held that the moon in an eclipse 
was darkened with the dust of battle. Her enemy had 
come upon her, and a terrible fight, big with consequence 
to those on earth, went on in heaven. In wild excite- 
ment the people beat on the sides of their houses, en- 
couraging the moon and shooting flights of arrows up 
into the sky to distract her adversary. Much the same 
as this was also done by certain Californians. 8 

With regard to an eclipse of the moon the Mexicans 
seem to have had rather special ideas as to its effects 
upon unborn children. At such times, women who were 
with child became alarmed lest their infant should be 
turned into a mouse, and to guard against such an un- 
desirable consummation they held a bit of obsidian, iztli, 
in their mouth, or put a piece of it in their girdle, so 
that the child should be born perfect and not lipless, or 
noseless, or wry-mouthed, or squinting, or a monster. 9 
These ideas are probably connected with the fact that 
the Mexicans worshiped the moon under the name of 
Meztli, as a deity presiding over human generations. 

7 Camargo, Hist, de TIaxcallan, in Nouvelles Annates dcs Voy., 1843, torn, 
xcvii., p. 103. 

» Alegre, Hist. Comp. de Jesus, torn, ii., p. 218; Ribas, Hist, de los Tr'ium- 
phos, p. 202; Boscana, in Robinson's Life in Cal., pp. 296-300. 

9 Sahagun, Hist. Gen., torn, ii., lib. viii., p. 250. 


This moon-god is considered by Clavigero to be identical 
with Joaltecutli, god of night. 10 

It is to the Abbe Brasseur de Bourbourg, however, that 
we must turn for a truly novel and cyclopean theory of 
Mexican lunolatry. He sees back to a time when the 
forefathers of American civilization lived in a certain 
Crescent Land in the Atlantic; here they practiced 
Sabaism. Through some tremendous physical catas- 
trophe their country was utterly overwhelmed by the 
sea; and this inundation is considered by the abbe to 
be the origin of the deluge-myths of the Central- Ameri- 
can nations. A remnant of these Crescent people saved 
themselves in the seven principal islands of the Lesser 
Antilles; these are, he explains, the seven mythical 
caves or grottoes celebrated in so many American legends 
as the cradle of the nations. The saved remnant of the 
people wept the loss of their friends and of their old land, 
making the latter, with its crescent shape, memorable for- 
ever by adopting the moon as their god. "It is the 
moon," writes the great Americaniste, " male and 
female, Luna and Lunus, personified in the land of the 
Crescent, engulfed in the abyss, that I believe I see at 
the commencement of this amalgam of rites and symbols 
of every kind." n I confess inability to follow the path 
by which the abbe has reached this conclusion; but I 
have indicated its whereabouts, and future students may 
be granted a further insight into this new labyrinth and 
the subtleties of its industrious Daedalus. 

The Mexicans had many curious ideas about the stars, 
some of which have come down to us. They particularly 
reverenced a certain group of three called mamalhoaztli, 
in, or in the neighborhood of, the sign Taurus of the 
zodiac. This name was >the same as that of the sticks 
from which fire was procured: a resemblance of some 

10 Explication del Codex TeUeriano-Remensis, part, ii., lam. x., in Kings- 
borough's Mex. Antiq., vol. v., p. 139; Spiegazione delle Tavole del Codice Mexi- 
cxno (VaticanoJ, tav. xxvi., in Kingsborough's Mex. Antiq., vol. v., p. 179; 
Sahagun, Hist. Gen., torn, ii., lib. vii., p. 250; Clavigero, Storia Ant. del Messico, 
torn, ii., pp. 9-17. 

11 Brasseurjie Bourbourg, Quatre Lettres, pp. 155-6. 


kind being supposed to exist between them and these 
stars. Connected again with this was the burning by 
every male Mexican of certain marks upon his wrist, in 
honor of the same stars; it being believed that the man 
who died without these marks should, on his arrival in 
hades, be forced to draw fire from his wrist by boring 
upon it as on a fire-stick. The planet Yenus was wor- 
shiped as the first light that appeared in the world, as the 
god of twilight, and, according to some, as being identical 
with Quetzalcoatl. This star has been further said to 
borrow its light from the moon, and to rise by four starts. 
Its first twinkle was a bad augury, and to be closed out 
of all doors and windows; on appearing for the third 
time, it began to give a steady light, and on the fourth 
it shone forth in all its clearness and brilliancy. 

Comets were called each citlalinpopoca, or the smok- 
ing star; their appearance was considered as a public 
disaster, and as announcing pest, dearth, or the death of 
some prince. The common people were accustomed to 
say of one, This is our famine, and they believed it to 
cast down certain darts, which falling on any animal, 
bred a maggot that rendered the creature unfit for food. 
All possible precautions of shelter were of course taken 
by persons in positions exposed to the influence of these 
noxious rays. Besides the foregoing, there were many 
stars or groups of stars whose names were identical with 
those of certain s^ods; the following seem to belong to 
this class: Tonacatlecutli or Citlalalatonalli, the milky 
way; Yzacatecutli, Tlahvizcalpantecutli, Ceyacatl, Achi- 
tumetl, Xacupancalqui, Mixcoatl, Tezcatlipoca, and Con- 
temoctli. 12 

I have already noticed a prevailing tendency to con- 
nect the worship of fire and that of the sun. The rites 
of a perpetual fire are found closely connected with 

Hist, d'i Tlaxcallan, in Nouvelles Annates des Voy., 18*13, torn, xcviii., p. ll/3; 
Vol. III. 8 


a sun-cult, and, whichever may be the older, it is certain 
they are rarely found apart. "What," saysTylor, "the 
sea is to Water-worship, in some measure the Sun is to 
Fire-worship." 13 Brinton would reverse this and give 
to fire the predominance: in short, he says, the sun 
"is always spoken of as a fire;" " and without danger 
or error we can merge the consideration of its wor- 
ship almost altogether is this element," 14 This sounds 
rather extravagant and is hardly needed in any case; 
for sufficient reason for its deification can always be 
found in its mysterious nature and awful powers of 
destruction, as well as in its kind and constantly 
renewed services, if gratitude have any power in mak- 
ing a god. The mere guarding and holding sacred 
a particular fire probably originated in the importance 
of possessing an unfailing source of the element, and in 
the difficulty of its production if allowed to die out, 
among men not possessed of the appliances of civiliza- 

When we come to review the gods in general, those 
connected with fire will be pointed out as they appear; 
for the present, let it suffice to say that many American 
peoples had such gods, or had ceremonies suggesting 
their existence and recognition, or lastly, had legends of 
the origin or procurement of the fire they daily used on 
the altar or on the hearth. In the Pueblos of New 
Mexico, and more especially among the Pecos, sacred 
perpetual fires were kept up by special command of 
their traditionary god and ruler Montezuma; but these 
fires were not regarded as fetiches. 15 The Mexican 
fire-god was known by the name of Xiuhtecutli, and 
by other names appertaining to the different aspects 
in which he was viewed. While preserving his own 
well-marked identity, he was evidently closely re- 

Mendieta, Hist. Ecles., p. 81. The word tecuili is of frequent occurrence as a 
termination in the names of Mexican gods. It signifies ' lord ' and is written 
with various spellings. I follow that given by Molina's Vocabulary. 

1 3 Tylor's Prim. Cult., vol. ii., p. 259. 

h Brinton' s Myths, p. M3. 

15 Ward, in Lid. Aff. Kept, 1864, p. 193. 


latecl also to the sun-god. Many and various, even 
in domestic life, were the ceremonies by which he 
was recognized ; the most important ritual in connection 
with his service being, perhaps, the lighting of the new 
fire, with which, as we shall see, the beginning of every 
Mexican cycle was solemnized. 10 

There are various fables scattered up and down among 
the various tribes regarding the origin or rather the pro- 
curing of fire. We know how the Quiches received it 
from the stamp of the sandal of Tohil; how, from the 
home of the cuttle-fish, a deer brought it to the Ahts in 
a joint of his leg; how from a distant island the great 
Yehl of the Thlinkeets fetched the brand in his beak 
that filled the flint and the fire-stick with seeds of eter- 
nal fire. 

The Cahrocs hold that, when in the beginning the crea- 
tor Chare3'a made lire, he gave it into the custody of two 
old hags, lest the Cahrocs should steal it. The Cahrocs, 
having exhausted every means to procure the treasure, 
applied for help to their old friend the Coyote; who, 
having maturely, considered how the theft might best 
be accomplished, set about the thing in this way: 
From the land of the Cahrocs to the home of the old 
women he stationed a great company of animals, at 
convenient distances ; the strongest nearest the den of the 
old beldames, the w r eakest farthest removed. Last of 
all he hid a Cahroc in the neighborhood of the hut, and, 
having left the man precise directions how to act, he 
trotted up to the door and asked to be let in out of the 
cold. Suspecting nothing, the crones gave him ad- 
mittance ; ' so he lay down in front of the fire, and made 
himself as comfortable as possible, waiting for the further 
action of his human accomplice without, In good time, 
the man made a furious attack on the house and the old 
furies rushed out at once to drive off the invader. This 
was the Coyote's opportunity.* Instantly he seized a 

16 Sahagun, Hist. Gen., torn, i., lib. i., p. 10; Torquemada, Monarq. Ind., 
torn, ii., pp. 56-7; Brasseur de Bourbourg, Hid. des Nat. Civ., torn, iii., pr> 
4 ( Jl-2. L i 


half-burnt brand and fled like a comet down the trail ; and 
the two hags, seeing how the}' had been outwitted, turned 
after him in immediate and furious chase. It had gone 
hard then with the hopes of the Cahrocs, if their four- 
legged Prometheus had trusted to his single speed ; but 
just as he began to feel the pace tell on him, and just as 
the wierd women thought they were about to recover 
the brand, the Cougar relieved him of it. Great was 
the satisfaction of our wise Coyote, as he sank down, 
clearing his sooty eyes and throat, and catching his 
breath, to see the great lithe cat leap away with the 
torch, and the hags gnash their choppy gums as they 
rushed by, hard in pursuit, on the dim trail of sparks. 
The Cougar passed the brand to the Bear, the Bear to 
his neighbor, and so on to the end. Down the long line 
of carriers, the panting crones plied their withered old 
legs in vain ; only two mishaps occurring among all the 
animals that made up the tile. The squirrel, last in the 
train but one, burned his tail so badly that it curled up 
over his back, and even scorched the skin above his 
shoulders. Last of all, the poor Frog, who received the 
brand when it had burned down to a very little piece, 
hopped along so heavily that his pursuers gained on him, 
gained fast and surely. In vain lie gathered himself for 
every spring, in vain lie stretched at every leap till the 
iarred muscles cracked again. He was caught. The 
smoke-dimmed eyes stood out from his head, his little 
heart thumped like a club against the lean fingers that 
closed upon his body — yet that wild croak was not the 
croak of despair. Once more for the hope of the Cah- 
rocs! one more struggle for the Coyote that trusted 
him in tins great thing! and with a gulp the plucky 
little martyr swallowed the fire, tore himself from the 
hands that held him, leaped into a river, and diving 
deep and long, gained his goal; but gained it a mourn- 
ful wreck, the handsome tail, which, of all his race, 
only the tadpole should ever wear again, was utterly gone, 
left, like that of an OShanter's mare, in the witch's 
grasp ; only the ghost of himself was left to spit out on 


some pieces of wood the precious embers preserved at so 
great a cost, And it is because the Frog spat out this 
fire upon these pieces of w T ood that it can always be 
extracted again by rubbing them hard together. 17 

The Navajos have a legend as to the procuring of fire, 
that has many analogies to the foregoing. They tell 
how, when they first gained the earth, they w T ere with- 
out fire, and how the Coyote, the Bat, and the Squirrel 
agreed to procure it for them. The object of their desire 
seems to have been in the possession of the animals in 
general, in some distant locality. The Coyote, having 
attached pine splinters to his tail, ran quickly through 
the fire and fled with his lighted prize. Being keenly 
pursued, however, by the other animals, he soon tired; 
upon which the Bat relieved him, and dodging and 
flitting here and there, carried the splinters still farther. 
Then the Squirrel came to the assistance of the Bat, and 
succeeding him in his office, contrived to reach the 
hearths of the Navajos with the coveted embers. 18 

The natives of Mendocino county, California, believe 
that lightning is the origin of fire, that a primeval bolt 
hurled down by the Man Above fell upon certain wood, 
from which, consequently fire can always be extracted by 
rubbing two pieces together. 19 

From fire let us turn for a moment to wind, whose 
phenomena, as might be expected, have not been allowed 
to pass wholly unnoticed by the mythologies with which 
we have to deal. When we come to examine ideas 
connected with death and with the soul of man and its 
future, we shall find the wind, or the air, often in use as 
the best name and figure for the expression of primitive 
conceptions of that mysterious thing, the vital essence or 
spirit. The wind too is often considered as a god, or at 
least as the breath of a god, and in many American 
languages the Great Spirit and the Great Wind are one 
and the same both in word and signification. The name 

17 Powers' Porno, MS. 

18 Eaton, in Schoolcraft's Arch., vol. iv., pp. 218-19. 

19 PoiD^rs' Porno, MS. 


of the god Hurakan, mentioned in Quiche myths, still 

signifies the Storm in many a language strange to his 
worshipers, while in Quiche it may be translated Spirit, 
or swiftly moving Spirit; 20 and the name of the Mexi- 
can god Mixcoatl is said to be to this day the correct 
Mexican term for the whirlwind. 21 

An interesting point here arises with regard to the 
division of the heavens into four quarters and the naming 
of these after the names of the wind. Dr. Brinton 
believes this fact to be at the bottom of the sacredness 
and often occurrence of the number four in so many 
early legends, and he connects these four winds and 
their embodiment in man}' quaternions of deities, with 
the sacredness of the cross and its use among widely 
separated nations, to whom its later Christian significa- 
tion was utterly unknown. 22 

If we ma}' suppose that the Great Spirit and the wind 
are often represented under the form of an enormous bird, 
we must connect with them, as their most inseparable 
attributes, the thunder and the lightning; the first, as 
we have so often seen, is the rustling or stridor of the 
wings of the bird, the second is the Hashing of his eyes. 
The Haven of the Konia<2;as is not, however, as anions; 
most other tribes of the great Northwest, the author of 
these things; but their principal deity when he is angry 
sends down two dwarfs, who thunder and lighten 
according to his command. 23 Of the god Hurakan. 
whom we have noticed as the etymon of the word hurri- 
cane, the Popol Vuh says: " The flash is the first sign 
of Hurakan; the second is the furrow of the flash; the 
third is the thunder-bolt that strikes;" 24 and to the 
Mexican god, Tlaloc, are also attached the same three 
attributes. 25 

20 Brasseur de Bourbourg, S'il Exlste des Sources de VHist. Prim, du Jlexlque, 
p. 101. 

21 Brasseur de Bourbourg, Hist. Nat. Ch\, torn, iii., p. 485; Brinton's Jfyths, 
p. 51. 

22 Brinton's Myths, pp: G6-98. 

2 3 Holmberg, Ethn. Skiz., p. 141. 

24 Ximemz, Hist. Ind. Guat., p. 6; Brasseur de Bourbourg, Popol Vuh, p. 9. 

25 Gama, Bos Piedras, pt. ii., p. 7G. 


Turning to water, we find it regarded among many 
tribes as the first of elemental things. It is from a pri- 
meval ocean of water that the earth is generally sup- 
posed to come up. Water is obviously a first and chief 
nourisher of vegetable life, and an indispensable prere- 
quisite of all fertility ; from this it is but a short step to 
saying, that it is the mother of those that live by the 
earth's fertility. "Your mother, Chalchiuhtlicue, god- 
dess of water," is a phrase constantly found in the mid- 
wife's mouth, in her address to the child, in the Mexican 
washing or baptismal service. 20 

The use of water more or less sanctified or set apart or 
made worthy the distinction 'holy;' the employment of 
this in a rite of avowed purification from inherent sin, 
at the time of giving a name, — baptism, in one word, — 
runs back to a period far pre-Christian among the 
Mexican, Maya, and other American nations; as 
ancient ceremonies to be hereafter described will show. 
That man sets out in this life-journey of his with a 
terrible bias toward evil, with a sad and pitiful liability 
to temptation, is a point upon which all religions are 
practically unanimous. How else could they exist? 
Were man born perfect he would remain perfect, other- 
wise the first element of perfection would be wanting; 
and perfection admits of no superlative, no greater, no 
god. Where there is a religion then, there is generally 
a consciousness of sin voluntary and involuntary. How 
shall I be cleansed? how shall my child be cleansed from 
this great wickedness? is the cry of the idolater as well 
as of the monotheist. Is it strange that the analogy be- 
tween corporal and spiritual pollution should indepen- 
dently suggest itself to both? Surely not. Wash and 
be clean, is to all the world a parable needing no inter- 
preter. 27 

2fi Sahayun, Hist. Gen., torn, ii., lib. vi., p. 197. 

27 Singularly apt in this connection are the wise words that Carlyle, Past 
and Present chartism, book i., p. 233, puts into the mouth of his mythical 
friend Sauerteig, — ' Strip thyself, go into the bath, or were it into the limpid 
pool and running brook, and there wash and be clean; thou wilt step out 
again a purer and a better man. This-consciousness of perfect outer pureness, 


The ceremonial use of water followed the Mexican 
through all his life; though for the present we shall 
only notice one more custom connected with it, the last 
of all. When a body was buried, a vase of clean, sweet 
water was let down into the tomb: bright, clear, life- 
giving and preserving water, — hope and love, dumb and 
inarticulate, stretching va^ue hand toward a resurrection. 

The Mexican rain and water god was Tlaloc, sender 
of thunder and lightning, lord of the earthly paradise, 
and fertilizer of earth ; his wife was the Chalchiuhtlicue, 
already mentioned. 28 Like Tlaloc was Quiateot, the 
Nicaraguan rain-god, master of thunderbolts and general 
director of meteorological phenomena. 29 

The Xavajos puffed tobacco smoke straight up toward 
heaven to brins; rain, and those of them that carried a 
corpse to burial were unclean till washed in water. 30 In 
a deep and loneh* canon near Fort Defiance there is a 
spring that this tribe hold sacred, approaching it only 
with much reverence and the performance of certain 
mystic ceremonies. They say it was once a boiling 
spring, and that even yet if approached heedlessly or by 
a bad Indian, its waters will seethe up and leap forth to 
overwhelm the intruder. 31 

The Zufiis had also a sacred spring; sacred to the rain- 
god, who, as we see by implication, is Montezuma the 
great Pueblo deity himself. No animal might taste of 
its sacred waters, and it was cleansed annually with 
vessels also sacred, — most ancient vases that had been 
transmitted from generation to generation since times to 

that to thy skin there now adheres no foreign speck of imperfection, how it 
radiates in on thee with cunning symbolic influences, to the very soul!. . . . 

It remains a religious duty from oldest time in the East Even the dull 

English feel something of this; they have a saying, " cleanliness is near of 
kin to Godliness." ' 

28 Clavigero, Storia Ant. del JLstico, torn, ii., pp. 15-16. 'Era conosciuta 
con altri nomi assai espressive, i quali o significavano i diversi effetti, che 
cagiouano l'acque, o le diverse apparenze, colori, che formano col loro moto. 
I Tlascallesi la chiamavano Matlalcueje, cioe, vestita di gonna turchina.' 
See also Mutter, Beisen m Mex., torn, iii., p. 89. 

29 Oviedo, Hist, Gen., torn, iv., pp. 46, 55. 

30 Ten Broeck, in Schoolcraft's Arch., vol. iv., p. 91; Bristol, in Ind. Aff*. 
B pt., 1867, p. 358. 

31 Backus, in Schoolcraft's Arch., vol! iv., p. 213. 


which even tradition went not back. These vessels were 
kept ranged on the wall of the well. The frog, the 
rattlesnake, and the tortoise were depicted upon them, 
and were sacred to the great patron of the place, whose 
terrible lightning should consume the sacrilegious hand 
that touched these hallowed relics. 32 

We have seen how the Californian tribes believe 
themselves descended from the very earth, how the bodi- 
less ancestor of the Tezcucans came up from the soil, how 
the Guatemaltecs, Papagos, and Pimas were molded 
from the clay they tread, and how the Navajos came to 
light from the bowels of a great mountain near the river 
San Juan. It seems long ago and often to have come 
into men's mind that the over-arching heaven or 
something there and the all-producing earth are, as it 
were, a father and mother to all living creatures. The 
Comanches call on the earth as their mother, and on the 
Great Spirit as their father. The Mexicans used to 
pray: Be pleased, our Lord, that the nobles who may 
die in the war be peacefully and pleasingly received by 
the sun and the earth, who are the father and mother of 
all. 33 It was probably, again, with some reference to the 
motherly function of the earth that the same people, 
when an earthquake came, took their children by the 
head or hand, and lifted them up saying: The earth- 
quake will make them grow. 34 Sometimes they specified 
a particular part of the earth as closer to them in this 
relation than other parts. It is said that on the tenth 
day of the month Quecholli, the citizens of Mexico and 
those of Tlatelolco were wont to visit a hill called Caca- 
tepec, for they said it was their mother. 35 

As to the substance, arrangement, and so on of the 
earth and sky there remain one or two ideas not already 
given in connection with the general creation. The 
Tlascaltecs, and perhaps others of the Anahuac peoples, 
believed that the earth was flat, and ending with the sea- 

7 O 

32 Whipple, in Pac 7?. B. Kept., vol. iii., p. 39. 

33 Sahagun, Hist. Gen., torn, ii., lib. vi., p. 43. 

34 Sahagun, Hist. Gen., torn, ii., lib. v., ap., pp. 21-2. 

35 Sahagun, Hist. Gen., torn, i., lib. ii., p. 7 J. 


shore, was borne up by certain divinities, who when 
fatigued relieved each other, and that as the burden was 
shifted from shoulder to shoulder earthquakes occurred. 
The sea and sky were considered as of one material, the sea 
bein<2: more hiirhlv condensed ; and the rain was thought 
to fall not from clouds but from the very substance of 
heaven itself. 36 The Southern Californians believed that 
when the Creator made the world he fixed it on the back 
of seven giants, whose movements, as in the preceding 
myth, caused earthquakes. 37 The sky, according to cer- 
tain of the Yucatecs, was held up by four brothers called 
each of them Bacab, in addition to their several names, 
which seem to have been Kan, Muluc, Ix, and Cauac. 
These four, God had placed at the four corners of the 
world when he created it, and they had escaped when all 
else were destroyed by flood. 38 

In the interior of the earth, in volcanoes, subterranean 
gods were often supposed to reside. The Koniagas, for 
example, held that the craters of Alaska were inhabited 
by beings mightier then men, and that these sent forth 
lire and smoke when they heated their sweat-houses or 
cooked their food. 3 "' 

The rugged majesty of hills and mountains has not 
been without its effect on the reverential mind of the 
American aborigines. Direct worship was unusual, but 
several incidents must have already informed the reader 
that a kind of sanctity is often attached to great eleva- 
tions in nature. A predilection for hills and mounds as 
landmarks and fanes of tradition, and as places of wor- 
ship, was as common among the Americans as among the 
people of the old world. The Choles of the province of 
Itza had a hill in their country that they regarded as 
the god of all the mountains, and on which they burned 
a perpetual fire. 40 The Mexicans, praying for rain, were 

36 Camargo, Hist, de Tlaxcallan, in Nouvelles Annales d?s Voy., 1834, torn, 
xcviii., p. 192. 

37 Reid, in Los Angeles Star. 

3S Landa, Bel. de las Cosas de Yucatan, p. 206. 

39 Holmberg, Ethn. SJdz., p. 141. 

4 Villagutierre, Hist. Conq. de Itza, pp. 151-2. 


accustomed to vow that they would make images of the 
mountains if their petitions were favorably received f 1 
and, in other points connected with their religion to show, 
as has appeared and will appear both with them and 
with other people, their recognition of a divinity abid- 
ing on or hedging about the great peaks. What wonder, 
indeed, that to the rude and awe-struck mind, the ever- 
lasting hills seemed nearer and liker heaven than the 
common-place level of earth.? and that the wild man 
should kneel or go softly there, as in the peculiar pre- 
sence of the Great Spirit? This is hardly a new feeling, 
it seems an instinct and custom as old as religion. 
Where went Abraham in that awful hour, counted to him 
for righteousness through all the centuries? Where 
smoked the thunderings and lightnings that heralded 
the delivery of the Law, when the son of Amram talked 
with Jehovah face to face, as a man talketh with his 
friend? Whence saw a greater than Moses the kingdoms 
of the world and the glory of them? whence, in the all- 
nights that came after, did the prayers of the Christ 
ascend? and where stood he when his raiment became 
as no fuller on earth could white it, Moses and Elias 
talking with him, and Peter so sore afraid ? 

Where hills were not found conveniently situated for 
purposes of worship, they seem to have been counterfeit- 
ed after man's feeble fashion: from high-place and 
mound, from pyramid and teocalli, since the morning 
stars sang together, the smoke of the altar and the 
censer has not ceased to ascend. But the day begins 
to broaden out, and the mists of the morning flee 
away; though the hills be not lowered, God is lifted 
up. Yet they have their glory and their charm still 
even to us, and to the savage they often appear as 
the result of a special and several creation. We remem- 
ber how the Great Spirit made Mount Shasta as his 
only worthy abiding-place on earth; and I give here 
another legend of a much more trivial sort than the first, 

41 Sahayun, Hist. Gen., torn, i., lib. ii., p. 177. 


telling how, not Mount Shasta alone, but all the mount- 
ains of California were built and put into position : — * 2 
At a time when the world was covered with water there 
existed a Hawk and a Crow and a very small Duck. 
The latter, after diving to the bottom and bringing up a 
beakful of mud, died ; whereupon the Crow and the Hawk 
took each a half of the mud that had been brought up, 
and set to work to make the mountains. Be^innino: at 
a place called Teheechavpah Pass, they built northwards, 
the Hawk working on the eastern range and the Crow 
on the western. It was a long and weary toil, but in 
time the work was finished, and as they laid the last 
peak the workers met at Mount Shasta. Then the Hawk 
saw that there had been foul play somewhere, for the 
western range was bigger than his; and he charged the 
Crow with stealing some of his mud. But the smart 
bird laughed a hoarse guffaw in the face of his eastern 
brother, not even taking the trouble to disown the theft, 
and chuckled hugely over his own success and western 
enterprise. The honest Hawk was at his wits' end, and 
he stood thinking with his head on one side for quite a 
long time ; then in an absent kind of way he picked up 
a leaf of Indian tobacco and began to chew, and wisdom 
came with chewing. And he strengthened himself 
mightily, and fixed his claws in the mountains, and 
turned the whole chain in the water like a great floating 
wheel, till the range of his rival had changed places with 
his, and the Sierra Nevada was on the east and the 
Coast Range on the west, as the}^ remain to this day. 

This legend is not without ingenuity' in its way but 
there is more of human interest in the following pretty 
story of the Yosemite nations, as to the origin of the 
names and present appearance of certain peaks and other 
natural features of their valley: — 

A certain Totokunula was once chief of the people 
here; a mighty hunter and a good husbandman, his 

42 Powers' Porno, MS. This is a tradition of the Yocuts, a Calif ornian 

tribe, occupying the Kern and Tulare basins, the middle San Joaquin, and 
the various streams running into Lake Tulare. 


tribe never wanted food while lie attended to their wel- 
fare. But a change came ; while out hunting one day, 
the young man met a spirit-maid, the guardian angel of 
the valley, the beautiful Tisayac. She was not as the 
dusky beauties of his tribe, but white and fair, with roll- 
ing yellow tresses that fell over her shoulders like sun- 
shine, and blue eyes with a light in them like the sky 
where the sun goes down. White, cloudlike wings were 
folded behind her shoulders, and her voice was sweeter 
than the song of birds; no wonder the strong chief loved 
her with a mad and instant love. He reached toward 
her, but the snowy wings lifted her above his sight, and 
he stood again alone upon the dome, where she had been. 

JS T o more Totokonula led in the chase or heeded 
the crops in the valley; he wandered here and there 
like a man distraught, ever seeking that wonderful shin- 
ing vision that had made all else on earth stale and un- 
profitable in his sight. The land began to languish, 
missing the industrious directing hand that had tended 
it so long; the pleasant garden became a wilderness 
where the drought laid waste, and the wild beast spoiled 
what was left, and taught his cubs to divide the prey. 
When the fair spirit returned at last to visit her valley, 
she wept to see the desolation, and she knelt upon the 
dome, praying to the Great Spirit for succor. God 
heard, and stooping from his- place, he clove the dome 
upon which she stood, and the granite was riven beneath 
her feet, and the melted snows of the Nevada rushed 
through the gorge, bearing fertility upon their cool bosom. 
A beautiful lake was formed between the cloven walls of 
the mountain, and a river issued from it to feed the 
valley for ever. Then sang the birds as of old, laving their 
bodies in the water, and the odor of flowers rose like a 
pleasant incense, and the trees put forth their buds, and 
the corn shot up to meet the sun and rustled when the 
breeze crept through the tall stalks. 

Tisayac moved away as she had come, and none knew 
whither she went; but the people called the dome by 
her name, as it is indeed known to this day. After her 


departure the chief returned from his weary quest; and 
as he heard that the winged one had visited the valley, 
the old madness crept up into his eyes and entered, 
seven times worse than at the first, into his empty soul; 
he turned his back on the lodges of his people. His last 
act was to cut with his hunting-knife the outline of his 
face upon a lofty rock, so that if he never returned his 
memorial at least should remain with them forever. He 
never did return from that hopeless search, but the 
graven rock was called Totokonula, after his name, 
and it may be still seen, three thousand feet high, guard- 
ing the entrance of the beautiful valley. 43 

Leaving this locality and subject, I may remark that 
the natives have named the Pohono Fall, in the same 
valley, after an evil spirit; many persons having been 
swept over and dashed to pieces there. No native of the 
vicinity will so much as point at this fall when going 
through the valley, nor could anything tempt one of 
them to sleep near it ; for the ghosts of the drowned are 
tossing in its spray, and their wail is heard forever above 
the hiss of its rushing waters. 44 

43 Hwtchings' Cal. Mag., vol. iv., pp. 197-9. 
4i Ildtddn<J$ , Cal. Mag., vol. iv., p. 243. 



Boles Assigned to Animals — Auguries from their Movements — The Ill- 
omened Owl— Tutelary Animals — Metamorphosed Men — The Ogress- 
Squirrel of Vancouver Island— Monkeys and Beavers — Fallen Men 
— The Sacred Animals — Prominence of the Bird — An Emblem of 
the Wind — The Serpent, an Emblem of the Lightning — Not Spe- 
cially connected with Evil — The Serpent of the Pueblos — The 
Water-Snake — Ophiolatry — Prominence of the Dog, or the Coyote 
— Generally though not always a Benevolent Power — How the 
Coyote let Salmon up the Klamath — Danse Macabre and Sad 
Death of the Coyote. 

The reader must have already noticed the strange rules 
filled by animals in the creeds of the Native Races of the 
Pacific States. Beasts and birds and fishes fetch and 
carry , talk and act, in a way that leaves even iEsop's heroes 
in the shade ; while a mysterious and inexplicable influence 
over human destiny is often accorded to them. It is of 
course impossible to say precisely how much of all this is 
metaphorical, and- how much is held as soberly and 
literally true. Probably the proportion varies all the 
way from one extreme to the other among different 
nations, and among peoples of different stages of culture 
in the same nation. They spake only in part, these 
priests and prophets of barbaric cults, and we can under- 
stand only in part; we cannot solve the dark riddle of 
the past ; we can oftenest only repeat it, and even that in 
a more or less imperfect manner. 

The Mexicans had their official augurs and sooth-, 

(127) & 


sayers, who divined much as did their brethren of classic 
times. The people also drew omen and presage from 
many things: from the howling of wild beasts at night; 
the singing of certain birds ; the hooting of the owl ; a 
weasel crossing a traveler's path; a rabbit running into 
its burrow; from the chance movements of worms, bee- 
tles, ants, frogs, and mice; and so on in detail. 1 

The owl seems to have been in many places considered 
a bird of ill omen. Among all the tribes visited by Mr 
Lord, from the Eraser River to the Saint Lawrence, this 
bird was portentously sacred, and was a favorite decora- 
tion of the medicine-men. To come on an owl at an 
unusual time, in daylight for example, and to hear its 
mystic crj 7 , were things not desirable of any that loved 
fulness of pleasure and length of days. 2 In California, 
by the tribes on the Russian River, owls were held to be 
devils or evil spirits incarnate. 3 

We often find an animal adopted in much the same 
way as a patron saint was selected by the mediasval knight. 
The Hyperborean lad, for example, when he reaches man- 
hood, takes some beast or fish or bird to be his patron, and 
the spirit connected with that animal is supposed to guard 
him. Unlike most Indians, the Eskimo will have no 
hesitation in killing an animal of his tutelary species; 
he is only careful to wear a piece of its skin or bone, 
which he regards as an amulet, which it were to him a 
serious misfortune to lose. Prolonged ill luck some- 
times leads a man to change his patron beast for another. 
The spirits connected with the deer, the seal, the salmon, 
and the beluga are regarded by all with special venera- 
tion. 4 

r The Mexicans used to allot certain animals to certain 
parts of the body; perhaps in much the same way as 
astrologers and " alchjmiists used to connect the stars of 
heaven with different substances and persons. The fol- 
lowing twenty Mexican symbols were supposed to rule 

1 Sahagun, Hist. Gen., torn, ii., lib. v., pp. 1-14, ap. pp. 25-G. 

2 Lord's Naturalist in Vancouver Island, vol. ii., pp. 3i-l.- 

3 Powers' Porno, MS. 

4 DulVs Alaska, p. 145. 


over the various members of the human body : The sign 
of the deer, over the right foot; of the tiger, over the 
left foot; of the eagle, over the right hand; of the 
monkey, over the left hand; of death, — represented by 
a skull, — over the skull; of water, over the hair; of the 
house, over the brow; of rain, over the eyes; of the dog, 
over the nose; of the vulture, over the right ear; of the 
rabbit, over the left ear; of the earthquake, over the 
tongue ; of flint, over the teeth ; of air, over the breath ; 
of the rose, over the breast; of the cane, over the heart; 
of wind, over the lungs — as appears from the plate in the 
Codex Vaticanus, the Italian interpreter giving, how- 
ever, u over the liver ; T ' of the grass, over the intestines; 
of the lizard, over the loins; and of the serpent, over the 
genitals. 5 

Sometimes the whole life and being of a man was 
supposed to be bound up in the bundle with that of some 
animal. Thus, of the Guatemaltecs, old Gage quaintly 
enough writes: " Many are deluded by the Devil to be- 
lieve that their life dependeth upon the life of such and 
such a beast (which they take unto them as their famili 
spirit) and think that when that beast dieth they must 
die; when he is chased their hearts pant; when he is 
faint they are faint; nay it happeneth that by the devil's 
delusion they appear in the shape of that beast." 6 

Animals are sometimes only men in disguise; and 
this is the idea often to be found at the bottom of that 
sacredness which among particular tribes is ascribed to 
particular animals. 

The Thlinkeet will kill a bear only in case cf great 
necessity, for the bear is supposed to be a man that has 
taken the shape of an animal. We do not know if they 
think the same of the albatross, but they certainly will 

5 Cod x Vaticanus (Mex.), in. Elngsborough's Mex. Antiq., vol. ii., plate 75; 
Spiegazione delle Tavole del Codice Mexicano (Vatlcano), in Kingsborough's 
Mex. Antiq., voi. v., p. 197, tav. lxxv.; Explanation of the Codex Vaticanus, in 
Kingsboroujh's Mex. Antiq., vol. vi., pp. 222-3, plate lxxv. It will be seen 
that I have trusted more to the plate itself than to the Italian explanation. 
As to Kingsborough's translation of that exjilanation, it is nothing hut a gloss 
with additions to and omissions from the original. 

6 Gage's X< w Survey, p. 334. 

Vol. III. 9 


not kill this bird, believing, like mariners ancient and 
modern, that such a misdeed would be followed by bad 
weather. 7 

Among the natives seen by Mr Lord on Vancouver Is- 
land, ill-luck is supposed to attend the profane killing of 
the ogress-squirrel, and the conjurers wear its skin as a 
strong charm among their other trumpery. As tradition 
tells, there once lived there a monstrous old woman with 
wolfish teeth, and finger-nails like claws. She ate chil- 
dren, this old hag, wiling them to her with cunning 
and oily words, and many were the broken hearts and 
empty cradles that she left. One poor Rachel, weeping 
for her child and not to be comforted because it was not, 
cries aloud: Oh, Great Spirit, Great Medicine, save my 
son, in any way, in any form! And the great, good 
Father, looking down upon the red mother pities her; 
lo, the child's soft brown skin turns to fur, and there 
slides from the ogress's grip no child, but the happiest, 
liveliest, merriest little squirrel of all the west — but 
bearing as its descendants still bear, those four dark 
lines along the back that show where the cruel claws 
plowed into it escaping. 8 

Where monkeys are found, the idea seems often to 
have occurred to men, to account for the resemblance of 
the monkey to the man by making of the first a fallen 
or changed form of the latter. AVe have already seen 
how the third Quiche destruction of the human race ter- 
minated thus ; and how the hurricane-ended Sun of the 
Air in Mexican mythology, also left men in the apish 
state. The intelligence of beavers may have been the 
means of winning them a similar distinction. The Flat- 
head says these animals are a fallen race of Indians, 
condemned for their wickedness to this form, but who 
will yet, in the fulness of time, be restored to their hu- 
manity. 9 

As we shall see more particularly, when we come to 

' Holmberg, Ethn. Skiz., p. 30. 
8 Lord's Nat., vol. ii., pp. 52-L 
a Cox's Adven., vol. i., p. 253. 


deal with the question of the future life, it was a com- 
mon idea that the soul of the dead took an animal shape, 
sometimes inhabiting another world, sometimes this. 
The Thlinkeets, for example, believed that their shamans 
used to have interviews with certain spirits of the dead 
that appeared to them in two forms, some as land ani- 
mals, some as marine. 10 

The Californians round San Diego will not eat the 
flesh of large game, believing such animals are inhabited 
by the souls of generations of people that have died ages 
ago ; L eater of venison ! ' is a term of reproach among 
them. 11 

The Pimos and Maricopas had, if Bartlett's account 
be correct, some curious and unusual ideas regarding 
their future state; saying that the several parts of 
the body should be changed into separate animals; the 
head would perhaps take the form of an owl, the feet 
become wolves, and so on. 12 The Moquis supposed that 
at death they should be several!}' changed into animals 
— bears, deer, and such beasts; which indeed, as we 
have already seen, they believed to have been their ori- 
ginal form. 13 

Different reasons are given by different tribes for 
holding certain animals sacred ; some of these we have 
already had occasion to notice. Somewhat different 
from most, however, is that given by the Xorthern-Indian 
branch of thcTinneh, for not eating the flesh of foxes, 
wolves, ravens, and so on. This tribe are accustomed to 
abandon the bodies of their dead wherever they happen 
to fall, leaving them to the maws of kites or of any other 
animals of prey in the neighborhood ; therefore nothing 
but the extreinest necessity can force any member of the 
nation to make use of such animals as food. u 

Certain natives of Guatemala in the province of Acalan, 
called by Yillagutierre Mazotecas, kept deer in so tame a 

10 Ball's Alaska, pp. 422-3. 

ii Schoolcraft's Arch., vol. v., p. 215. 

12 Bartlett's Pers. Nar., vol. ii., p. 222. 

i" Ten Broeck, in Schoolcraft's Arch., vol. iv., p. 86. 

11 Hearm 's Journey, p. 311". 


state that the}* were easily killed Ijy the least active soldiers.' 
These deer were held as sacred by the inhabitants; for 
tradition told them that their greatest god had visited 
them in this figure. 15 The Apaches greatly respect the 
bear, neither killing him nor tasting his flesh. They 
think that there are spirits of divine origin within or 
connected with the eagle, the owl, and all birds perfectly 
white. Swine, the}' hold to be wholly unclean. 16 Some 
animals are sacred to particular gods: with the Zuhis, 
the frog, the turtle, and the rattlesnake were either con- 
sidered as specially under the protection of Montezuma, 
— here considered as the god of rain, — or they were them- 
selves the lesser divinities of water. 17 

It is sometimes necessary to guard against being mis- 
led by names. Thus the natives of Nicaragua had gods 
whose name was that of a rabbit or a deer ; yet these 
animals were not considered as gods. The identity of 
name went only to say that such and such were the gods 
to be invoked in hunting such and such animals. 18 

The reader must have already noticed how important 
is the part assigned to birds in our mythology, especially 
in creation-myths. A great bird is the agent of the chief 
deity, perhaps the chief deity himself. The sweep of 
his wings is thunder ; the lightnings are the glances of 
his eyes. 19 Chipewyans, Thlinkeets, Atnas, Koltschanes, 
Kenai, and other nations give this being great prominence 
in their legends. 

Brinton believes this bird to be the emblem of the wind, 
to be " a relic of the cosmogonal myth which explained 
the origin of the world from the action of the winds, un- 

15 VUlagutierre, Hist Conq. Itza, p. 43. 

1G Charlton, in Schoolcraft's Arch., vol. v., p. 209. 

17 Whipple, Ewbank, and Turners Rept, pp. 39-40/in Pac. E. B. Rept., 
vol. iii. 

J 8 Ovieclo, Hist. Gen., torn, iv., pp. 54-5. 

19 Swinburne, Ana i 3 found an allied idea worthy of his sublime 

verse : — 

' Cast forth of heaven, with feet of awful gold, 
And plumeless wings that make the bright air blind, 
Lightning, with thunder for a hound behind, 
Hunting through fields unfurrowed and unsown — ' 


der the image of the bird, on the primeval ocean;" 20 and 
his view is probably correct in many cases. 

The savage is ever ready to be smitten by natural 
powers. Ignorant and agape with wonder, is it unnatural 
that he should regard, with a superstitious awe and re- 
spect, the higher and more peculiar animal gifts, relating 
them to like physical powers, and managing to mix and 
confuse the whole by a strange synthesis of philosophy? 
Birds Hew, the winds flew ; the birds were of the kith of 
the winds, and the winds were of the kin of the gods 
who are over all. Poor, weary, painted man, who could 
only toil dustily along, footsore and perhaps heartsore, 
with strange lon^hiGrs that venison and bear-meat could 
not satisfy, — was it very wonderful if the throbbing 
music and upward flight of the clear-throated and swift- 
winged were to him very mysterious and sacred things? 
''All living beings," \sa}^ the north-eastern Eskimos, 
" have the faculty of soul, but especially the bird." From 
the flight and song of birds, the Mexican divined and 
shadowed forth the unborn shapes of the to-come. He 
died too, if he died in an odor of warlike sanctity, in 
the strong faith that his soul should ultimately take the 
form of a bird and twitter through the ages in the purple 
shadows of the trees of paradise. 21 

The Kailtas on the south fork of the Trinity in Cali- 

20 Brinton's Myths, p. 205. The Norse belief is akin to this:— 
' The giant Hrsnelgur, 
At the end of heaven, 
Sits in an eagle's form; 
'Tis said that from his wings 
The cold winds sweep 
Over all the nations.' 

Vafthrudvers maal; Grenville Pigott's 
translation, in Scandinavian Mythology, p. '27. 

Seott, Pirate, chap, v., in the ' Song of the Tenrpest,' which he translates 
from Noma's month, shows that the same idea is still found in the Shetland 
Inlands : — 

Stern eagle of the far north-west, 
Thou that bearest in thy grasp the thunderbolt, 
Thou whose rushing pinions stir ocean to madness,. . . . 
Cease thou the waving of thy pinions, 
Let the ocean repose in her dark strength; 
Cease thou the flashing of thine eyes, 
Let the thunderbolt sleep in the armory of Odin.' 
^ Sah/ijun, I fist. Gen,, torn, i , lib. iii., p. 2G5; Clavigero, Storia Ant. del 
Messieo, torn, ii., p. 5. 


forma, though the}* do not turn the soul into a bird, do 
say that as it leaves the body a little bird carries it up to 
the spirit-land. 2 ' 2 

The Spaniards of Vizcaino's expedition, in 1602, 
found the Californians of Santa Catalina Island venerat- 
ing two great black crows, which, according to Seiior 
Galan, were probably a species of bird known in Mexico 
as rey de los zojjilotes, or king of turke3*-buzzards ; he 
adding that these birds are still the objects of respect 
and devotion anions; most Californian tribes. 23 

As another symbol, sign, or type of the supernatural, 
the serpent would naturally suggest itself at an early 
date to man. Its stealthy, subtle, sinuous motion, the 
glittering fascination of its eyes, the silent deathly thrust 
of its channeled fangs, — what marvel if the foolishest 
of men, like the wisest of kings, should say "I know it 
not; it is a thing too wonderful for me?" It seems to 
be immortal : every spring-time it cast off and crept from 
its former skin, a crawling unburnt phoenix, a new ani- 

Schwartz, of Berlin, affirms, from deep research in 
Greek and German mythology, that the paramount 
germinal idea in this wide-spread serpent-emblem is the 
lightning, and Dr. Brinton develops the same opinion at 
some length. 24 

Tlaloc, the Aztec rain-god, held in his hand a ser- 
pent-shaped piece of gold, representing most probably 
the lightning. Hurakan, of the Quiche legends, 
is otherwise the Strong Serpent, he who hurls 
below, referring in all likelihood to storm powers as 
thunderer. 25 This view being accepted, the lightning- 

22 Powers' Porno, MS. 

23 Torquemada, Monarq. Ind., torn, i., p. 713: 'The entire tribes of the 
Californian Indiana [sic] appear to have had a great devotion and venera- 
tion for the Condor or Yellow-headed Vulture.' Taylor, in Cal. Farmer, May 
25th, 18G0. ' Cathartes Californianus, the largest rapacious bird of North 
Americe.' Baird's Birds of X. Am., p. 5. 'This bird is an object of great 
veneration or worship among the Indian tribes of every portion of the state.' 
Reid, ia Los Angeles Star. 

24 Brinton's Myths, p. 112. 

25 Torquemada, Monarq. Ind , torn. ii.. pp. 46-71: Clavigero, Storia Ant. del 
Messico, torn, ii., pp. 14-15; Gama, Bus Piedras, pt. ii., pp. 7G-7. 


serpent is the type of fruitfulness ; the thunder 
storm being inseparably joined with the thick, fer- 
tilizing summer showers. 26 Born, too, in the middle 
heaven, of a cloud mother and of an Ixion upon whom 
science cannot yet place her finger, amid moaning breeze 
and threatening tempest, the lightning is surely also 
akin to the wind and to the bird that is their symbol. 
The amalgamation of these powers in one deity seems to 
be what is indicated by such names as Quetzalcoatl, 
Gucumatz, Cukulcan, all titles of the God of the Air in 
different American languages, and all signifying ' Bird- 

In a tablet on the wall of a room at Palenque is a 
cross surmounted by a bird, and supported by what ap- 
pears to be the head of a serpent: u The cross," says 
Brinton, " is the symbol of the four winds; the bird and 
serpent, the re] jus of the air god, their ruler." 

It does not appear that savages attach airy special signi- 
ficance of evil to the snake, though the prepossessions 
of early writers almost invariably blind them on this 
point. 27 This rule is not without its exceptions however ; 
the Apaches hold that every rattlesnake contains the 
soul of a bad man or is an emissary of the Evil Spirit. 28 
The Piutes of Nevada have a demon-deit} 7 in the form 
of a serpent still supposed to exist in the waters of Pyra- 
mid Lake. The wind when it sweeps down among the 
nine islands of the lake drives the waters into the most 
fantastic swirls and eddies, even when the general surface 
of the lake is tolerably placid. This, say the Piutes. is 
the devil- snake causing the deep to boil like a pot ; this 
is the old serpent seeking whom he may devour ; and no 
native in possession of his five sober wits will be found 
steering toward those troubled waters at such a time. 29 

hi the Pueblo cities, among the Pecos especially, there 
existed in early times an immense serpent, supposed to 
be sacred, and which, according to some accounts, was 

2G Mutter, Amerikanische Urreligionen, p. 500. 

27 Tylor'sPHm. Cult., vol. ii., p. 217. 

^ Charlton, in Schoolcraft's Arch., vol. v., p. 209. 

2'-> Virginia City Chronicle, in S. F. Daily Evg Post, of Aug. 12th, 1872. 


fed with the flesh of his devotees. Gregg heard an 
"honest ranchero" relate how, one snowy morning, he 
had come upon this terrible reptile's trail, " large as that 
of a dragging 0x5" the ranchero did not, pursue the in- 
vestigation farther, not obtruding his science, such as it 
was, upon his religion. This serpent was supposed to 
be specially connected with Montezuma, and with rain 
phenomena: it is often called u the great water-snake." 
It was described to Whipple " as being as large round 
as a man's body; and of exceeding great length, slowly 
gliding upon the water, with long wavy folds" like the 
Nahant sea-serpent, — to Mollhausen, as being a great 
rattlesnake, possessor of power over seas, lakes, rivers and 
rain; as thick as many men put together, and much 
longer than all the snakes in the world ; moving in great 
curves and destroying wicked men. The Pueblo In- 
dians prayed to it for rain and revered its mysterious 
powers. 30 

A people, called by Castaneda Tabus, apparently of 
Sinaloa in the neighborhood of Culiacan, regarded cer- 
tain large serpents with sentiments of great veneration 
if not of worship. 31 These reptiles seem also to have 
been regarded with considerable reverence in Yucatan. 
In 1517, BernalDiaz noticed many figures of serpents in 
a temple he saw at Campeche. Juan de Grijalva, also, 
found at the same time many such figures at Champoton, 
among other idols of clay and wood. 32 

We have already spoken of the Mexican Tlaloc and of 
the frequent appearance of the serpent in his worship ; 
it does not appear, however, notwithstanding Mr Squier's 
assertion to the contrary, that that the serpent was actu- 
ally worshiped either in Yucatan or Mexico. Bernal 
Diaz, indeed, says positively in one passage, speaking of 

30 Gregg's Com. Prairies, vol. i., pp. 271-2; Whipple, Ewbank, and Turner's 
Bept., pp. 38-9, in Pac. B. B. Bept., vol. iii.; Mollhausen, Tagebuch, p. 170; 
Domenech's Deserts, vol. i., pp. 1G-1-5. Certain later travelers deny all the 
foregoing as ' fiction and fable;' meaning, probably, that they saw nothing 
of it, or that it does not exist at present. Wand, in Lad. Aff. Bept., 1864, p. 
133; Mali tie's Two Thousand Miles, p. 255. 

3i Castaneda, Voy. de Cibola, in Temaux-Compans, Voyages, serie i., torn. 
ix., p. 150. 

32 Bernal Diaz, Hist. Conq., fol. 3, 8. 


a town called Tenayuca, that " they worshiped here, in 
their chief temple, three serpents;" but the stout soldier 
was not one to make fine distinctions between gods and 
their attributes or symbols; nor, even with the best in- 
tentions, was he or any other of the conquistadores in a 
position to do justice to the faith of l gentiles.' 33 

We shall hereafter find the serpent closely connected 
with Quetzalcoatl in many of his manifestations, as well 
as with others of the ^Mexican gods. 

From the serpent let us turn to the dog, with his rela- 
tions the wolf and coyote, an animal holding a respecta- 
ble place in American mythology. We have seen how 
many tribes derive, figuratively or literally, their origin 
from him, and how often he becomes legendarily impor- 
tant as the hero of some adventure or the agent of some 
deity. He is generally brought before us in a rather 
benevolent aspect, though an exception occurs to this in 
the case of the Chinooks at the mouth of the Columbia. 
With these the coyote figures as the chosen medium for 
the action of the Evil Spirit toward any given malevo- 
lent end, — as the form taken by the Evil One to coun- 
teract some beneficence of the Good Spirit toward the 
poor Indian whom he loves. 34 

Very different from this is the character of that Coj^ote 
of the Cahrocs whose good deeds we have so often had 
occasion to set forth. One feat of his yet remains to be 
told. — how he stocked the river with salmon. Chareva, 
the creator, had made salmon, but he had put them in 
the big-water, and made a great fish-dam at the mouth 
of the Klamath, so that they could not go up; and this 
dam was closed with something of the nature of a white 
man's key, which key was given in charge to two old 
hags, not wholly unfamiliar to us, to keep and watch 
over it night and day, so that no Cahroc should get near 
it. Xow fish being wanting to the Cahrocs, they were 
sorely pushed by hunger, and the voice of women and 

33 Bzrnal Diaz, Hist. Conq., fol. 136; Schoolcraft's Arch., vol. v., p. 105. 
3i Lord's Nat., vol. ii , p. 218. 


little children was heard imploring food. The Coyote 
determined to help them ; he swore by the stool of Cha- 
reya that before another moon their lodges should drip 
with salmon, and the very dogs be satisfied withal. So 
he traveled clown the Klamath many days' journey till 
he came to the mouth of the river and saw the big-water 
and heard the thunder of its waves. Up he went to the 
hut of the old women, rapped, and asked hospitality for 
the night; and he was so polite and debonair that the 
crones could find no excuse for refusing him. He 
entered the place and threw himself down by the fire, 
warming himself while the}' prepared salmon for supper, 
which they ate without offering him a bite. All night 
long he lay by the fire pretending to sleep, but thinking 
ever his plans and waiting for the event that should put 
him in possession of the might)' key that he saw hanging 
so high above his reach. In the morning one of the 
hags took down the key and started off toward the dam 
to get some fish for breakfast. Like a flash the Coyote 
leaped at her, hurling himself between her feet; heels 
over head she pitched, and the key flew far from her 
hands. Before she well knew what had hurt her the 
Coyote stood at the dam with the key in his teeth, 
wrenching at the fastenings. They gave way ; and with a 
great roar the green water raced through, all ashine with 
salmon, utterly destroying and breaking clown the dam, 
so that ever after fish found free way up the Klamath. 

The end of the poor Coyote was rather sad, considering 
his kindness of heart and. the man)' services he had ren- 
dered the Cahrocs. Like too many great personages, he 
grew proud and puffed up with the adulation of flatterers 
and sycophants, — proud of his courage and cunning, and 
of the success that had crowned his great enterprises for 
the good of mankind, — proud that he had twice deceived 
and outwitted the guardian hags to whom Chareya had 
entrusted the fire and the salmon. — so proud that he 
determined to have a dance through heaven itself, hav- 
ing chosen as his partner a certain star that used to pass 
quite close by a mountain where he spent a good deal of 


his time. So he called out to the star to take him by 
the paw and they would go round the world together for 
a night; but the star only laughed, and winked in an 
excessively provoking way from time to time. The 
Coyote persisted angrily in his demand, and barked and 
barked at the star all round heaven, till the twinkling 
thing grew tired of his noise and told him to be quiet 
and he should be taken next night. Xext night the star 
came quite up close to the cliff where the Coyote stood, 
who leaping was able to catch on. Away they danced 
together through the blue heavens. Fine sport it was 
for a while ; but oh, it grew bitter cold up there for a 
Coyote of the earth, and it was an awful sight to look 
down to where the broad Klamath lay like a slack bow- 
string and the Cahroc villages like arrow-heads. Woe 
for the Coyote! his numb paws have slipped their hold 
on his bright companion; dark is the partner that leads 
the dance now, and the name of him is Death. Ten 
long snows the Coyote is in falling, and when he strikes 
the earth he is " smashed as flat as a willow-mat' 1 . — 

Covotes must not dance with stars. 35 

35 Power's Pomo, MS.; Boscana, in Robinson's Life in CaL, pp. 259-202, 
describes certain other Californians as worshiping for their chief god some- 
thing in the form of a stuffed coyote. 



Eskimo Witchcraft — The Tinneh and the Koniagas — Kugans of the 
Aleuts — The Thlixkeets, the Haidahs, and the Nootkas — Paradise 
Lo.->t of the Okanagans — The Salish, the Clallams, the Chinook*, 
the CayuseSj the Walla Wallas, and the Nez Peeces — Shoshone 
Ghouls— Northern California — The Sun at Monterey — Ouiot and 
Chinigchinich — Antagonistic Gods of Lower California — Coman- 
ches, Apaches, and Navajos — Montezuma of the Pueblos — Moqcis 
and Mojaves — Primeval Race of Northern California. 

We now come to the broadest, whether or not it 
be the most important, branch of our subject, namely, 
the gods and spirits that men worship or know of. 
Commencing at the extreme north, we shall follow 7 
them through the various nations of our territory 
toward the south. Very wild and conflicting is the 
general mass of evidence bearing on a belief in 
supernatural existences. Xot only from the nature 
of the subject is it allied to questions and matters 
the most abstruse and transcendental. — in the ex- 
pression of which the exactest dialectic terminology 
must often be at fault; much more the rude and stam- 
mering speech of savages — but it is also apt to call up 
prejudices of the most warping and contradictory kind 
in the minds of those through whose relation it must 
pass to us. However hopeless the task, I will strive to 
hold an equal beam of historical truth, and putting away 
speculations of either extreme, try to give the naked 
expression of the belief of the peoples we deal with, — 


however stupid, however absurd, — and not what they 
ought to believe, or may be supposed to believe, accord- 
ing to the ingenious speculations of different theorists. 

The Eskimos do not appear to recognize any supreme 
deity, but only an indefinite number of supernatural 
beings varying in name, power, and character — the evil 
seeming to predominate. They carry on the person a 
small ivory image rudely carved to represent some ani- 
mal, as a kind of talisman ; these are thought to further 
success in hunting, fishing and other pursuits, but can 
hardly be looked upon with any great reverence, as they 
are generally to be bought of their owners for a reasona- 
ble price. All supernatural business is transacted through 
the medium of shamans ; — functionaries answering to the 
medicine-men of eastern Indian tribes ; — of these there are 
both male and female, each practising on or for the bene- 
fit of his or her own respective sex. The rites of their 
black art differ somewhat, according to Dall, from those 
of their Tinneh neighbors, and very much from those of 
the Tschuktschi and other Siberian tribes; and their 
whole religion may be summed up as a vague fear finding 
its expression in witchcraft. 1 

The Tinneh, that great people stretching north of the 
fifty-fifth parallel nearly to the Arctic Ocean and to the 
Pacific, do not seem in any of their various tribes to have 
a single expressed idea with regard to a supreme power. 
The Loucheux branch recognize a certain personage, resi- 
dent in the moon, whom they supplicate for success in 
starting on a hunting expedition. This being once lived 
among them as a poor ragged boy that an old woman 
had found and was bringing up; and who made him- 
self ridiculous to his fellows by making a pair of 
very large snow-shoes ; for the people could not see what 
a starveling like him should want with shoes of such 
unusual size. Times of great scarcity troubled the hunt- 
ers, and they would often have fared badly had they not 
invariably on such occasions come across a new broad 

i Armstrong's Nar., pp. 102, 193; Richardson's Pol Reg., pp. 319-20, 325; 
Richardson's Jour., vol. i , pp. 358, 385; Dall's Alaska, pp. 144-5. 


trail that led to a head or two of freshly killed game. 
They were glad enough to get the game and without 
scruples as to its appropriation ; still they felt curious as 
to whence it came and how. Suspicion at last pointing 
to the hoy and his great shoes, as being in some way 
implicated in the affair, he was watched. It soon 
became evident that he was indeed the benefactor of the 
Loucheux, and the secret hunter whose quarry had so 
often replenished their empty pots ; yet the people were 
far from being adequately grateful, and continued to 
treat him with little kindness or respect. On one occa- 
sion they refused him a certain piece of fat — him who had 
so often saved their lives by his timely bounty ! That night 
the lad disappeared, leaving only his clothes behind, hang- 
ing on a tree. He returned to them in a month, however, 
appearing as a man and dressed as a man. He told 
them that he had taken up his home in the moon ; that 
he would always look down with a kindly eye to their 
success in hunting; but he added, that as a punishment 
for their shameless greed and ingratitude in refusing him 
the piece of fat, all animals should be lean the long win- 
ter through, and fat only in summer; as has since been 
the case. 

According to Hearne, the Tinneh believe in a kind of 
spirits, or fairies, called nanteaa, which people the earth, 
the sea, and the air, and are instrumental for both good 
and evil. Some of them believe in a good spirit called 
Tihugun, 'my old friend,' supposed to reside in the sun 
and in the moon ; the} 7 have also a bad spirit, Chutsain, 
apparently only a personification of death, and for this 
reason called bad. 

They have no regular order of shamans ; any one when 
the spirit moves him may take upon himself their duties 
and pretensions, though some by happy chances, or pecu- 
liar cunning, are much more highly esteemed in this re- 
gard than others, and are supported by voluntary con- 
tributions. The conjurer often shuts himself in his tent 
and abstains from food for days till his earthly grossness 
thins awa} T , and the spirits and things unseen are con- 


strained to appear at his behest. The younger Timieh 
care for none of these things; the strong limh and the 
keen eye, holding their own well in the jostle of life, 
mock at the terrors of the invisible; but as the pulses 
dwindle with disease or age, and the knees strike together 
in the shadow of impending death, the shaman is hired 
to expel the evil things of which the patient is possessed. 
Anion"; the Tacullies, a confession is often resorted to at 
this stage, on the truth and accuracy of which depend 
the chances of a recovery. As Harmon says, " the crimes 
which they most frequently confess discover something 
of their moral character and therefore deserve to be 
mentioned;" but in truth I cannot mention them; both 
with women and with men a filthiness and bestiality 
worse than the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah defy the 
stomach of description. The same thing is true of the 
tedious and disgusting rites performed by the Tinneh 
shamans over the sick and at various other emergencies. 
They blow on the invalid, leap about him or upon him, 
shriek, sing, groan, gesticulate, and foam at the mouth, 
with other details of hocus-pocus varying indefinitely 
with tribe and locality. The existence of a soul is for 
the most part denied, and the spirits with whom dealings 
are had are not spirits that were ever in or of men ; 
neither are they regarded by men with any sentiment of 
love or kindly respect; fear and self-interest are the 
bonds — where any bonds exist — that link the Tinneh 
with powers supernal or infernal. 2 

The Koniagas have the usual legion of spirits haunt- 
ing water, earth, and air, whose w r rath is only to be ap- 
peased by offerings to the shamans; and sometimes, 
though very rarely, by human sacrifices of slaves. They 
have also a chief deity or spirit, called Shljam Schoa, 
and a power for evil called Eyak. 3 

2 Hardisty, in Smithsonian Kept., 186G, pp. 318-19; Jarvis' Religion, Tnd. X 
Am., p. 91; Kennicott, in Whymper's Alaska, p. 3-45; Mackenzie's Voy., p. 
cxxviii.; Schoolcraft's Arch., vol. v., p. 178; Ross, in Smithsonian R?pL, 1866, 
pp. 306-7; Franklin's Nar., vol. i., pp. 24G-7; Harmon's Jour., p. 300; Hoop- 
er's Tuski, p. 317; Richardson's Jour., vol. i., pp. 3t5-G; Ball's Alaska, pp. 
83-9 ); Whymper's Alaska, pp. 231-2. 

3 Ilulmberg, Ethn. Skiz., pp. 140-1; Saucr, Billings' Ex., p. 17-4. 


Of the Aleuts, it is said that their rites showed a much 
higher religious development than was to he found among 
any of their neighbors ; the labors of the Russian priests 
have, however, been successful enough among them to 
obliterate all remembrance of aught but the outlines of 
their ancient cult. They recognize a creator-god, but 
without worshiping him; he had made the world, but 
he did not guide it; men had nothing to do any longer 
with him, but only with the lesser kugans, or spirits, to 
whom the direction and care of earthly affairs have been 
committed. The stars and the sun and the moon w T ere 
worshiped, or the spirits of them among others, and 
avenged themselves on those that adored them not. The 
offended sun smote the eyes of a scoffer with blindness, 
the moon stoned him to death, and the stars constrained 
him to count their number — hopeless task that alwaj^s 
left the victim a staring maniac. The shamans do not 
.seem to have enjoyed that distinction among the Aleuts 
that their monopoly of mediation between man and the 
invisible world gave them among other nations. They 
were generally very poor, living in want and dying in 
misery ; they had no part nor lot in the joys or sorrows 
of social life ; never at feast, at wedding, or at a funeral 
was their face seen. They lived and wandered men for- 
bid, driven to and fro by phantoms that w r ere their mas- 
ters and not their slaves. The Aleuts had no permanent 
idols, nor any worshiping-places built with hands; near 
every village was some sanctified high place or rock, 
sacred as a Sinai against the foot of woman or youth, 
and whoever profaned it became immediately mad or 
sick to death. Only the men and the old men visited 
the place leaving there their offerings of skins or feathers 
with unknown mysterious ceremonies. 

The use of amulets was universal; and more than 
shield or spear to the warrior going to battle was a belt 
of sea- weed woven in magic knots. What a philosopher's 
stone was to a Roger Bacon or a Paracelsus, was the 
tkhimkee ) a marvelous pebble thrown up at rare inter- 
vals by the sea, to the Aleutian hunter. No beast could 


resist its attraction; lie that carried it had no need to 
chase his prey, he had only to wait and strike as the 
animal walked up to its death. Another potent charm 
was grease taken from a dead man's body; the spear- 
head touched with this was sure to reach a mortal spot 
in the whale at which it was hurled. 

There are dim Aleutian traditions of certain religious 
night dances held in the month of December. Wooden 
idols, or figures of some kind, were made for the occasion 
and carried from island to island with many esoteric 
ceremonies. Then was to be seen a marvelous sight. 
The men and women were put far apart ; in the middle of 
each party a wooden figure was set up; certain great 
wooden masks or blinders were put on each person, so 
contrived that the wearer could see nothing outside a 
little circle round his feet. Then every one stripped, 
and there upon the snow, under the moonlight, in the 
bitter Arctic night, danced naked before the image, — say 
rather before the god, for as they danced a kngan 
descended and entered into the wooden figure. Woe to 
him or to her whose drift-wood mask fell, or was lifted, 
in the whirl of that awful dance ; the stare of the Gorgon 
was not more fatal than a glance of the demon that 
possessed the idol ; and for any one to look on one of the 
opposite sex, however it came about, he might be even 
counted as one dead. When the dance was over, the 
idols and the masks were broken and cast away. It 
may be added that such masks as this were needed, even 
by prophets in their interviews with the great spirits 
that know all mortal consequences; and that when a 
man died such a mask was put over his eyes — naked 
and shivering soul, face to free with the darkest kugan 
of all we will shelter thee what we can. 4 

The Thlinkeets are said not to believe in any supreme 
being. They have that Yelil, the Raven, and that Kha- 
nukh, the Wolf, whom we are already to some extent 
acquainted with ; but neither the exact rank and charac- 

* D'Orbigny, Voy., pp. 579-80; Coxe's, Bass. Bis., p. 217; DalVs Alaska, 
pp. 385, 389; See Bancroft's Nat. Races, vol. i., p. 93. 
Vol. III., 10. 


ter of these in the supernatural world, nor even their 
comparative rank, can be established above contradiction. 
Thus Yehl is said to be the creator of all beings and 
things, yet we have not forgotten how Khanukh wrung 
from the unwilling lips of him the confession : Thou art 
older that I. It is again said of Yehl that his power is 
unlimited ; but alas, we have seen him helpless in the 
magic darkness raised by Khanukh, and howling as a 
frightened child might do in a gloomy corridor. The 
nature of Yehl is kind and he loves men, while the re- 
verse is generally considered true of Khanukh ; but Yehl, 
too, when his anger is stirred up sends sickness and evil 
fortune. Yehl existed before his birth upon earth; he 
cannot die nor even become older. "Where the sources 
of the Nass are, whence the east- wind comes, is Nass- 
shakiej-ehl, the home of Yehl; the east-wind brings 
news of him. By an unknown mother a son was born 
to him, who loves mankind even more than his father, 
and provides their food in due season. To conclude the 
matter, Yehl is, if not the central figure, at least the 
most prominent in the Thlinkeet pantheon, and the 
alpha and the omega of Thlinkeet philosoph}' and theol- 
ogy is summed up in their favorite aphorism : As Yehl 
acted and lived, so also will we live and do. After 
Yehl and Khanukh, the Thlinkeets believe in the brother 
and sister, Chethl and Ahgishanakhou, the Thunder or 
Thunder-bird, and the Under-ground Woman. Chethl 
is a kind of great northern rukh that snatches up and 
swallows a whale without difficult v, while his wings and 
eves produce thunder and lightning as already described ; 
his sister Ahgishanakhou sits alone below and guards 
the Irminsul that supports the world of the North -west. 5 
The Thlinkeets have no idols, unless the little images 

5 In Holmberg's account of these Thlinkeet supernatural powers, nothing 
is said of the sun or moon as indicating the possession of life by them or of 
any qualities not material. But Dunn, Th? Oregon Territory, p. 284, aud 
Dixon, Voyage Round the World, pp. 189-90, describe at least some tribe or 
tribes of the Thlinkeets and many tribes of the Haidahs, that consider the sun 
to be a great spirit moving over the earth once every day, animating and 
keeping alive all creatures, and, apparently, as being the origin of all; the 
moon is a subordinate and night watcher. 


sometimes carried by the magicians for charming with 
may be called by that name; they have no worship 
nor priests, unless their sorcerers and the rites of them 
may be entitled to these appellations. These sorcerers 
or shamans seem to be much respected ; their words and 
actions are generally believed and acquiesced in by all ; 
though the death of a patient or victim, or supposed vic- 
tim, is sometimes avenged upon them by the relatives of 
the deceased. Shamanism is mostly hereditary ; as a natu- 
ral course of things the long array of apparatus, masks, 
dresses, and so on, is inherited by the son or grandson 
of the deceased conjurer. The young man must, how- 
ever, prove himself worthy of his position before it be- 
comes assured to him, by calling up and communicating 
with spirits. The future shaman retires into a lonely 
forest or up some mountain, where he lives retired, feed- 
ing only on the roots of the 'paa<ix-liorruliim 1 and waiting 
for the spirits to come to him, which they are generally 
supposed to do in from two to four weeks. If all go well 
the meeting takes place, and the chief of the spirits sends 
to the neophyte a river-otter, in the tongue of which 
animal is supposed to be hid the whole power and secret 
of shamanism. The man meets the beast face to face, 
and four times, each time in a different fashion, he pro- 
nounces the syllable 'Oh! ' Upon this the otter falls in- 
stantlv, reaching out at the same time its tongue, which 

•/ 7 O O 7 

the man cuts off and preserves ; hiding it away in a close 
place, for if any one not initiated should look on this 
talisman the sight would drive him mad. The otter is 
skinned hy the new shaman and the skin kept for a sign 
of his profession, while the flesh is buried; it was un- 
lawful to kill a river-otter save on such occasions as 
have been described. If, however, the spirits will not 
visit the would-be shaman, nor give him any opportunity 
to get the otter-tongue as described above, the neophyte 
visits the torn!) of a dead shaman and keeps an awful 
vigil over night, holding in his living mouth a finger of 
the dead man or one of his teeth ; this constrains the 
spirits very powerfully to send the necessary otter. 


"When all these things have been clone the shaman re- 
turns to his family emaciated and worn out, and his new 
powers are immediately put to the test. His reputation 
depends on the number of spirits at his command. The 
spirits are called yek 1 and to every conjurer a certain 
number of them are attached as familiars, while there 
are others on whom he may call in an emergency; in- 
deed every man of whatever rank or profession is 
attended by a familiar spirit or demon, who only aban- 
dons his charge when the man becomes exceedingly bad. 
The world of spirits in general is divided into three 
classes: keeyek, tdkeeyek, and Ukeeyek. The first-class, 
' the Upper Ones/ dwell in the north and seem 
to be connected with the northern lights; they are 
the spirits of the brave fallen in battle. The other two 
classes are the spirits of those that died a natural death, 
and their dwelling is called takankou. The takeeyek, 
1 land-spirits.' appear to the shamans in the form of land 
animals. With regard to the tekeeyek, 'sea-spirits' 
which appear in the form of marine animals, there is 
some dispute among the Thlinkeets as to whether these 
spirits were ever the spirits of men like those of the other 
two classes, or whether they were merely the souls of sea 

The supreme feat of a conjurer's power is to throw 7 one 
of his liege spirits into the body of one who refuses to 
believe in his power ; upon which the possessed is taken 
with swooning and fits. The hair of a shaman is never 
cut. As among the Aleuts, a wooden mask is necessary 
to his safe intercourse with any spirit; separate masks 
are worn for interviews with separate spirits. When a 
shaman sickens, his relatives fast for his recovery; when 
he dies, his bod}' is not burned like that of other men, 
but put in a box which is set up on a high frame. The 
first night following his death his body is left in that 
corner of his hut in which he died. On the second 
night it is carried to another corner, and so on for four 
nights till it has occupied successively all the corners of 
the yourt, all the occupants of which are supposed to fast 


during this time. On the fifth day the body is tied 
down on a board, and two bones that the dead man had 
often used in his rites when alive are stuck, the one in 
his hair and the other in the bridge of his nose. The 
head is then covered with a willow basket, and the body 
taken to its place of sepulture, which is always near the 
sea-shore; no Thlinkeet ever passes the spot without 
dropping a little tobacco into the water to conciliate the 
manes of the mighty dead. 

The Haidahs believe the great solar spirit to be the 
creator and supreme ruler ; they do not however confuse 
him with the material sun, who is a shining man walk- 
ing round the fixed earth and wearing a " radiated" 
crown. Sometimes the moon is also connected in a con- 
fused indefinite way with the great spirit. There is 
an evil spirit who, according to Dunn, is provided 
with hoofs and horns, though nothing is said as to the 
fashion of them, whether orthodox or not, The Haidahs, 
at least those seen by Mr Poole on Queen Charlotte Is- 
land, have no worship, nor did they look upon themselves 
as in any way responsible to any deity for their actions. 
As with their northern neighbors, a belief in goblins, 
spectres, and sorcery seems to be the sum of their religion. 

G Ilolmherg, Ethn. Skiz., pp. 52-73; DalVs Alaska, pp. 421-3; Kotzebue's 
Hew Voyage, vol. ii., p. 58; Dunn's Oregon, p. 230; Bendel's Alex. Arch., 
pp. 31-3. This last traveler gives us a variation of the history of Yehl and 
Khanukh, which is best presented in his own words: — 'The Klinkits do not 
believe in one Supreme Being, but in a host of good and evil spirits, above 
whom are towering two lofty beings of godlike magnitude, who are the prin- 
cipal objects of Indian reverence. These are Yetiil and Kanugh — two 
brothers; the former the benefactor and well-wisher of mankind, but of a 
very whimsical and unreliable nature; the latter the stern God of War, terri- 
ble in his wrath, but a true patron of every fearless brave. It is he who 
sends epidemics, bloodshed and war to those who have displeased him, 
while it seems to be the principal function of Yethl to cross the sinister pur- 
poses of his dark-minded brother. Yethl and Kanugh lived formerly on 
earth, and were born of a woman of a supernatural race now passed away, 
about the origin and nature of which many conflicting legends are told, hard 
to comprehend. When Yethl walked on earth and was quite young he ac- 
quired great skill in the use of the bow and arrow. He used to kill large 
birds, assume their shape and fly about. His favorite bird was the raven; 
hence its name, " Yethl," which signifies "raven " in the Klinkit language. 
He had also the fogs and clouds at his command, and he would often draw 
them around him to escape his enemies. His brother's name, Kanugh, signi- 
fies " wolf," consequently "raven" and "wolf" are the names of the two 
gods of the Klinkits, who are supposed to be the founders of the Indian 
race. ' 


"With some at least of the Haidahs there was in exist- 
ence a rite of this sorcerj' attended by circumstances of 
more than ordinary barbarity and ferocity. When the 
salmon season is over and the provisions of winter have 
been stored away, feasting and conjuring begin. The 
chief — who seems to be the principal sorcerer, and indeed 
to possess little authority save from his connection with 
the preter-human powers — goes off to the loneliest and 
wildest retreat he knows of or can discover in the mount- 
ains or forest, and half starves himself there for some 
weeks till he is worked up to a frenzy of religious in- 
sanity and the nawhks — fearful beings of some kind not 
human — consent to communicate with him by voices or 
otherwise. During all this observance, the chief is called 
taamish, and woe to the unlucky Ilaidah who happens 
by chance so much as to look on him during its continu- 
ance ; even if the taamish do not instantly slay the in- 
truder, his neighbors are certain to do so when the thing 
comes to their knowledge, and if the victim attempt to 
conceal the affair, or do not himself confess it, the most 
cruel tortures are added to his fate. At last the inspired 
demoniac returns to his village, naked save a bear-skin 
or a ragged blanket, with a chaplet on his head and a 
red band of alder-bark about his neck. lie springs on 
the first person he meets, bites out and swallows one or 
more mouthfuls of the man's living flesh wherever he 
can fix his teeth, then rushes to another and another, 
repeating his revolting meal till he falls into a torpor from 
his sudden and half-masticated surfeit of flesh. For 
some days after this he lies in a kind of coma, " like an 
over-gorged beast of pre}'," as Dunn says; the same 
observer adding that his breath during that time is 
" like an exhalation from a grave." The victims of this 
ferocity dare not resist the bite of the taamish; on the 
contrary, they are sometimes willing to offer themselves 
to the ordeal, and are always proud of its scars. 7 

The Xootkas acknowledge the existence of a great per- 

7 Dunn's Oregon, pp. 253-9; Scouler, in Lond. Gcog. Soc. Jour., vol. xi., p. 
223; Bancroft's Nat. liaces, vol. i., pp. 170-71. 


eonage called Quahootze, whose habitation is apparently 

in the sky, but of whose nature little is known. When 
a storm begins to rage dangerously the Xootkas climb to 
the top of their houses and looking upwards to this great 
god, they beat drums and chant and call upon his name, 
imploring him to still the tempest. Thej r fast, as some- 
thing agreeable to the same deity, before setting out on 
the hunt, and, if their success warrant it, hold a feast in 
his honor after their return. This festival is held usually 
in December, and it was formerly the custom to finish it 
with a human sacrifice, an atrocity now happily fallen 
into disuse ; a boy, with knives stuck through the super- 
ficial flesh of his arms, legs, and sides, being exhibited as 
a substitute for the ancient victim. 

Matlose is a famous hob-goblin of the Nootkas; he is 
a very Caliban of spirits ; his head is like the head of 
something that might have been a man but is not ; his 
uncouth bulk is horrid with black bristles; his monstrous 
teeth and nails are like the fangs and claws of a bear. 
Whoever hears his terrible voice falls like one smitten, 
and his curved claws rend a prey into morsels with a 
single stroke. 

The Xootkas, like so many American peoples, have a 
tradition of a supernatural teacher and benefactor, an 
old man that came to them up the Sound long ago. His 
canoe was copper, and the paddles of it copper; every 
thing he had on him or about him was of the same metal. 
He landed and instructed the men of that day in many 
things; telling them that he came from the sky, that 
their country should be eventually destroyed, that they 
should all die, but after death rise and live with him 
above. Then all the people rose up angry, and took his 
canoe from him, and slew him • a crime from which their 
descendants have derived much benefit, for copper and 
the use of it have remained with them ever since. Huge 
images, carved in wood, still stand in their houses in- 
tended to represent the form and hold in remembrance 
the visit of this old man, — by which visit is not improb- 
ably intended to be signified an avatar or incarnation 


of that chief deity, or great spirit, worshiped by many 
Californian tribes as 'the Old Man above.' 

The Ahts regard the moon and the sun as their 
highest deities, the moon being the husband and the 
sun the wife. To the moon chiefty, as the more 
powerful deity, they pray for what the}' require ; and to 
both moon and sun, as to all good deities, their prayers 
are addressed directly and without the intervention of 
the sorcerers. Quawteaht — which seems to be a local Aht 
modification of Quahootze — who made most things 
that are in the world, was the first to teach the people to 
worship these luminaries who, over all and seeing all, 
are more powerful than himself, though more distant 
and less active. There is also that Tootooch, thunder- 
bird, of which so much has been already said. 

The Xootkas, in general, believe in the existence of 
numberless spirits of various kinds, and in the efficacy 
of sorcery. As in neighboring nations, the shaman 
gains or renews his inspiration by fasting and solitary 
meditation in some retired place, re-appearing at the end 
of his vigil half-starved and half-insane, but filled with 
the black virtue of his art. He does not generally col- 
lect a meal of living human flesh like the taamish of the 
preceding family, but he is satisfied with what his teeth 
can tear from the corpses in the burial-places. Old 
women are admitted to a share in the powers of sorcery 
and prophecy and the interpretation of omens and dreams; 
the latter a most important function, as few days and 
nights pass over a Xootka house that do not give occasion 
by some vision or occurrence for the office of the sibyl or 
the augur. 8 

8 Jewitt's Xar., p. 83; Scolder, in Land. Gear/. Soc. Jour., vol. xi., pp. 223- 

4; Mofras, Explor., torn, i., p. 345; SutUy Mexicana, Viage, p. 136; Meares' 

Voy., p. 270; Hutchings' Cal. Mar/., vol. v., pp. 222-4; Macfie's Vane. IsL, pp. 

433-441,455; Barret-Lennard'sTrav., pp. 51-3; SproaVs Scenes, pp. 40, 156- 

8, 167-75, 205-11; Cook's Voy. to Pac, vol. ii., p. 317. As illustrating 
strongly the Nootka ideas with regard to the sanctity of the moon and sun, 
as well as the connection of the sun with the fire, it may be well to call atten- 
tion to the two following customs: — ' El Tays [chief] no puede hacer uso de sus 
mugeres sin ver enteramente iluminado el disco de la luna.' SutU y Mexi- 
cana, Viage, p. 145. ' Girls at puberty . .are kept particularly from the sun or 
tire.' Bancroft's Nat. Paces, vol. i., p." 197. In this connection it may be ineii- 


The Okanagans believe in a good spirit or master of 
life, called Elemehumkillanwaist or Skyappe; and in 
a bad spirit Kishtsamali or Chacha; both moving con- 
stantly through the air, so that nothing can be done 
without their knowledge. The Okanagans have no wor- 
ship public or private, but before engaging in anything 
of importance they offer up a short prayer to the good 
spirit for assistance; again on state occasions, a pipe is 
passed round and each, one smokes three whiffs toward 
the rising sun, the same toward the setting, and the same 
respectively toward the heaven above and the earth 
beneath. Then they have their great mythic ruler and 
heroine, Scomalt, whose story is intimately connected with 
a kind of Okanagan fall or paradise lost. Long ago. so 
long ago that the sun was quite young and very small 
and no bigger than a star, there was an island far out at 

CO 7 

sea called Samahtumiwhoolah, or the White Man's 
Island. It was inhabited by a white race of gigantic 
stature, and governed by a tall fair woman called Scom- 
alt; and she was a great and strong 'medicine,' this 
Scomalt. At last the peace of the island was destroyed 
by war, and the noise of battle was heard, the white men 
fighting the one with the other ; and Scomalt was exceed- 
ingly wroth. She rose up and said : lo, now I will drive 
these wicked fir from me; my soul shall be no longer 
vexed concerning them, neither shall they trouble the 
faithful of my people with their strivings any more. 
And she drove the rebellious together to the uttermost 
end of the island, and broke off the piece of land on 
which they were huddled, and pushed it out to sea to 

tioned that Mr Lord, Naturalist, vol. ii., p. 257, saw among the Xootkas 
while at Fort Rupert, a very peculiar Indian "medicine," a solid piece of 
native copper, hammered flat, oval it would appear from the description, and 
painted with curious devices, eyes of all sizes being especially conspicuous. 
The Hudson-Bay traders call it an "Indian copper," and said it was only 
exhibited on extraordinary occasions, and that its value to the tribe was esti- 
mated at fifteen slaves or two hundred blankets. This "medicine" was pre- 
served in an elaborately ornamented wooden case, and belonging to the tribe, 
not to the chief, was guarded by the medicine-men. Similar sheets of cop- 
per are described by Schoolcraft as in use among certain of the Vesperic 
aborigines: May they all be intended for symbols of the sun, such as that 
reverenced by the Peruvians? 


drift whither it would. This floating island was tossed 
to and fro many days and buffeted of the winds exceed- 
ingly, so that all the people thereon died save one man 
and one woman, who, seeing their island was read}' to 
sink, made themselves a canoe and gat them away to- 
ward the west. After paddling day and night for many 
suns, thev came to certain islands, whence steering 
through them, the}' came at last to where the mainland 
was, being the territory that the Okanagans now inhabit ; 
it was. however, much smaller in those days, having 
grown much since. This man and woman were so sorely 
weather-beaten when they landed that they found their 
original whiteness quite gone, and a dusk}' reddish color 
in its place. All the people of the continent are de- 
scended from this pair, and the dingy skin of their storm- 
tossed ancestors has become a characteristic of the race. 
And even, as in time past the wrath of the fair Scomalt 
loosed the island of their ancestors from its mainland, 
and sent it adrift with its burden of sinful men, so in 
a time to come, the deep lakes, that like some Hannibal's 
vinegar soften the rocks of the foundations of the world, 
and the rivers that run for ever and gnaw them away, 
shall set the earth afloat again; then shall the end of the 
world be, the awful itsowleigh. 9 

The Salish tribes believe the sun to be the chief deity, 
and certain ceremonies, described by Mr Lord as having 
taken place on the death of a chief, seem to indicate that 
fire is in some way connected with the great light. 10 The 
chief is ex officio a kind of priest, presiding for the most 
part at the various observances by which the deity of the 
sun is recognized. There is the usual belief in sorcery 
and second sight, and individuals succeed, by force of 

9 Ross' Adven., pp. 287-9. 

10 ' The bravest woman of the tribe, one used to carrying ammunition to 
the warrior when engaged in fight, bared her breast to the person who for 
coinage and conduct was deemed fit successor to the departed. From the 
breast he cut a small portion, which he threw into the fire. She then cut a 
small piece from the shoulder of the warrior, which was also thrown into 
the lire. A piece of bitter root, with a piece of meat, were next thrown into 
the fire, all these being intended as offerings to the Sun, the deity of the 
Fiatheads.' Tolmie, in Lord's Nat., vol. ii., pp. 237-8. For references to the 
remaining matter of the paragraph see Id., vol. ii., pp. 237-43. 260. 


special gifts for fasting and lonely meditation, in having 
themselves accounted conjurers, — an honor of dubious 
profit, as medicine-men are constantly liable to be shot 
by an enraged relative of airy one whose death they may 
be supposed to have brought about. 

The Clallams, a coast tribe on the mainland opposite 
the south end of Vancouver Island, have a principal 
good deity called by various names, and an evil spirit 
called Skoocoom ; to these some add a certain Teyutlma, 
L the genius of good fortune.' The medicine-men of the 
tribe are supposed to have much influence both for good 
and evil with these spirits and with all the demon race, 
or sehuiab as the latter are sometimes called. In this 
tribe the various conjurers are united by the bonds of a 
secret society, the initiation into which is attended by a 
good deal of ceremony and expense. Three days and 
three nights must the novice of the order fast alone in a 
mysterious lodge prepared for him, round which during 
all that time the brethren already initiated sing and 
dance. This period elapsed, during which it would seem 
that the old nature has been killed out of him, he is 
taken up like one dead and soused into the nearest cold 
water, where he is washed till he revives; which thing 
they call " washing the dead." When his senses are 
sufficiently gathered to him, he is set on his feet; upon 
which he runs off into the forest, whence he soon reap- 
pears a perfect medicine-man, rattle in hand and decked 
out with the various trappings of his profession. He 
then parts all his worldly gear among his friends, himself 
henceforth to be supported only by the fees of his new 
calling. 11 

Ikanam, the creator of the universe, is a powerful deity 
among the Chinooks, who have a mountain named after 
him from a belief that he there turned himself into stone. 
After him, or before him as many say, comes Italapas, 
the Coyote, who created men after an imperfect fashion, 12 
taught them how to make nets and catch salmon, how to 

11 Kane's Wan>L, pp. 218-9; Gibb's Clallam and Lummi Vocah., p. 15. 

12 This vol., pp. 95-6. 


make a fire, and how to cook ; for this the first fruits of the 
fishing season are always sacred to him, and his figure is 
to be found carved on the head of almost every Chinook 
canoe on the Columbia. They have a fire-spirit, an evil 
spirit, and a body of familiar spirits, tamanowas. Each 
person has his special spirit, selected by him at an early 
age, sometimes by fasting and other mortification of the 
flesh, sometimes by the adoption of the first object the 
child or young man sees, or thinks he sees, on visiting 
the woods. These spirits have a great effect on the 
imagination of the Chinooks, and their supposed direc- 
tions are followed under pain of mysterious and awful 
punishments ; people converse — " particularly when in the 
water" — with them, apparently talking to themselves in 
low monotonous tones. Some say that when a man dies 
his tamanowa passes to his son ; but the whole matter 
is darkened with much mystery and secrecy; the name 
of ones familiar spirit or guardian never being mentioned 
even to the nearest friend. A similar custom forbids 
the mention of a dead mans name, at least till many 
years have elapsed after the bereavement. 

The Chinook medicine-men are possessed of the usual 
powers of converse and mediation with the spirits good 
and evil; there are two classes of them, employed in 
all cases of sickness, — the etaminuas. or priests, who in- 
tercede for the soul of the patient, and, if necessary, for 
its safe passage to the land of spirits, — and the keelc/fles, 
or doctors, sometimes women, whose duty it is to ad- 
minister medical as well as spiritual aid. 13 

With the Cay uses and the Walla- Wallas any one may 
become a medicine-man ; among the Xez Perces the office 
belongs to an hereditary order. Women are sometimes 
trained to the profession, but they are not believed to 
hold such extreme powers as the males, nor are they 
murdered on the supposed exercise of some fatal influ- 

13 Wilkes' Nar. in U. 8. Ex. Ex , vol. v., pp. 124-5; Cox's Adven., vol. i., p. 
317; Dunn's Oregon, pp. 125-6; Franchere's Nar., p. 258; Mofras, Explor., 
torn, ii., p. 351; Ross' Adven., p. 96; Parker's Explor. Tour. pp. 139, 246. 
251; Tolmiz, in Lord's Nat., vol. ii., p. 218; Gribbs' Chinook Vocab., pp. 11. 13; 
Gibbs', Clallam and Lummi Vocab., pp. 15, 29; Irving' s Astoria, pp. 339-lU; 
Trior's Prim. Cult., vol. ii., p. 253. 


ence. For, as with the Chinooks 14 so here, the reputa- 
tion of sorcerer is at once the most terrible to others and 
the most dangerous to one's self that one can have. His 
is a power of life, and death ; his evil eye can wither and 
freeze a hated life if not as swiftly at least as surely as 
the stare of the Medusa ; he is mortal, however, — he can 
slay your friend or yourself, and death is bitter, but then 
how sweet an anodyne is revenge! There is no strong 
magic can avail when the heart's blood trickles down the 
avenger's shaft, no cunning enchantment that can keep 
the life in when his tomahawk crumbles the skull like a 
potsherd, — and so it comes about that the conjurers walk 
everywhere with their life in their hand, and are con- 
strained to be very wary in their exercise of their nefa- 
rious powers. 15 

The Shoshone legends people certain parts of the 
mountains of Montana with little imps or demons called 
ninumbees, who are about two feet long, perfectly naked, 
and provided each with a tail. These limbs of the evil 
one are accustomed to eat up any unguarded infant they 
may find, leaving in its stead one of their own baneful 
race. When the mother comes to suckle what she sup- 
poses to be her child, the fiendish changeling seizes her 
breast and begins to devour it; then, although her screams 
and the alarm thereby given soon force the malicious 
imp to make his escape, there is no hope further; she 
dies within the twenty-four hours, and if not well watched 
in the meantime, the little demon will even return 
and make an end of her by finishing his interrupted 
meal. There is another variety of these hobgoblins 
call pahonahSj 'water-infants,' who devour women and 
children as do their brother-fiends of the mountain, and 
complete the ring of ghoulish terror that closes round the 
Shoshone child and mother. 16 

14 Parker's Explor. Tour, p. 254: 'The chiefs say, that they and their sons 
are too great to die of themselves, and although the}' may be sick, and de- 
cline, and die, as others do, yet some person, or some evil spirit instigated 
by some one, is the invisible cause of their death; and therefore when a 
chief, or chief's son dies, the supposed author of the deed must he killed.' 

v > Alvord, in Schoolcraft's Arch.., vol. v., p. G52. 

16 Stuart's Montana, pp. G4-G. 


The Californian tribes, taken as a whole, are pretty 
uniform in the main features of their theogonic beliefs. 
They seem, without exception, to have had a hazy con- 
ception of a lofty, almost supreme being; for the most 
part referred to as a Great Man, the Old Man Above, the 
One Above ; attributing to him, however, as is usual in 
such cases, nothing but the vaguest and most negative 
functions and qualities. The real, practical power that 
most interested them, who had most to clo with them and 
they with him, was a demon, or body of demons, of a toler- 
ably pronounced character. In the face of divers assertions 
to the effect that no such thing as a devil proper has ever 
been found in savage mythology, we would draw atten- 
tion to the following extract from the Porno manuscript of 
Mr Powers — a gentleman who, both by his study and by 
personal investigation, has made himself one of the best 
qualified authorities on the belief of the native Californi- 
an, and whose dealings have been for the most part with 
tribes that have never had airy friendly intercourse with 
white men: — " Of course the thin and meagre imagina- 
tion of the American savages was not equal to the crea- 
tion of Milton's magnificent imperial Satan, or of Goethe's 
Mephistopheles, with his subtle intellect, his vast powers, 
his malignant mirth ; but in so far as the Indian fiends 
or devils have the ability, they are wholly as wicked as 
these. They are totally bad, they have no good thing 
in them, they think only evil; but they are weak and 
undignified and absurd ; they are as much beneath Satan 
as the l Big Indians ' who invent them are inferior in 
imagination to John Milton." 17 

A definite location is generally assigned to the evil 
.one as his favorite residence or resort; thus the Cali- 
-fornians in the county of Siskiyou, give over Devil's 
Castle, its mount and lake, to the malignant spirits, and 
avoid the vicinity of these places with all possible care. 

The medicine-man of these people is a personage of some 
importance, dressing in the most costly furs; he is a non- 
combatant, not coming on the field till after the fight ; among 

!7 Power's Porno, MS. 


otlier duties, it is absolutely necessary for him to visit any 
camp from which the tribe has been driven by the 
enemy, there to chant the death-song and appease the 
angry spirit that wrought this judgment of defeat, for 
only after this has been done is it thought safe to light 
again the lodge- fires on the old hearths. Once lit these 
lodge-fires are never allowed to go out during times of 
peace; it would be a bad omen, and omens are every- 
thing with these men, and deducible from all things. 
The power of prophecy is thoroughly believed in, and is 
credited not only to special seers, but also to distinguished 
warriors going into battle; in the latter case, as far at 
least as their own several fate is concerned; this, accord- 
ing to Mr Miller, they often predict with startling accu- 
racy. 18 

There is a strange sacredness mixed up with the sweat- 
house and its use, among the Cahrocs, the Eurocs, and 
many other tribes. The men of every village spend the 
winter and rainy season in its warm shelter ; but squaws 
are forbidden to enter, under penalty of death, except when 
they are initiated into the ranks of the ' medicines.' 
So consistent are the Indians in this matter, that women 
are not allowed even to gather the wood that is to be burned 
in the sacred fire of a sweat-house ; all is done by men, and 
that only with certain precautions and ceremonies. The 
sacred fire is lit every year in September by a l medi- 
cine ' who has gone out into the forest and fasted and 
meditated for ten days; and, till a certain time has 
elapsed, no secular eye must behold so much as the smoke 
of it under awful penalties. The flame once burning is 
never suffered to go out till the spring begins to render 
further heat unnecessary and inconvenient. 

On one only occasion is the ban lifted from the head 
of women ; when a female is being admitted to the medi- 
cine ranks, she is made to dance in the sweat-house 
till she falls exhausted. It does not appear, however, 
that even by becoming a medicine can she hope to see 
twice the interior of this lodge. 

* 8 Joaquin Miller's Life amongst the 3/odocs, pp. 21, 110, 259-00, 300. 


The admission of a man to the medicine is a much 
severer affair. He must retire to the forest for ten days, 
eating no meat the while, and only enough acorn-porridge 
to keep the life in him ; the ten days past, he returns to 
the sweat-house and leaps up and down till he falls, just 
as the woman did. 

The doctors or sorcerers are of two kinds, c root doctors' 
and l barking doctors.' To the barking doctor falls the 
diagnosis of a case of sickness. He, or she, squats down 
opposite the patient, and barks at him after the manner 
of an enraged cur, for hours together. If it be a poison- 
ing case, or a case of malady inflicted by some conjurer, 
the barking doctor then goes on to suck the evil thing out 
through the skin or administer emetics, as may be 
deemed desirable. If the case, however, be one of less 
serious proportions, the l barker,' after having made his 
diagnosis, retires, and the root-doctor comes in, who, with 
his herbs and simples and a few minor incantations, pro- 
ceeds to cure the ailment. If a patient die, then the 
medicine is forced to return his fee; and if he refuse 
to attend on anyone and the person die, then he is forced 
to pay to the relatives a sum equal to that which was 
tendered to him as a fee in the beginning of the affair ; 
thus like all professions, that of a medicine has its 
draw-backs as well as advantages. 

Several Northern Californian tribes have secret socie- 
ties which meet in a lodge set apart, or in a sweat-house, 
and engage in mummeries of various kinds, all to fright- 
en their women. The men pretend to converse with the 
devil, and make their meeting-place shake and ring again 
with yells and whoops. In some instances, one of their 
number, disguised as the master fiend himself, issues from 
the haunted lodge, and rushes like a madman through 
the village, doing his best to frighten contumacious 
women and children out of their senses. This, it would 
seem, has been going on from time immemorial and the 
poor women are still gulled by it, and even frightened 
into more or less prolonged fits of wifely propriety and 
less easy virtue. 


The coast tribes of Del Norte County, California, live 
in constant terror of a malignant spirit that takes the 
form of certain animals, the form of a bat, of a hawk, of 
a tarantula, and so on, — but especially delights in and 
affects that of a screech-owl. The belief of the Russian- 
River tribes and others is practically identical with this. 

The Cahrocs have, as we already know, some concep- 
tion of a great deity, called Chareya, the Old Man Above ; 
he is wont to appear upon earth at times to some of the 
most favored sorcerers; lie is described as wearing 
a close tunic, with a medicine-bag, and as having long 
white hair that falls venerably about his shoulders. 
Practically, however, the Cahrocs, like the majority of 
Californian tribes, venerate chiefly the coj'ote. Great 
dread is also had of certain forest-demons of nocturnal 
habits; these, say the Eurocs, take the form of bears and 
shoot arrows at benighted wayfarers. 19 

Between the foregoing outlines of Californian belief 
and those connected with the remaining tribes, passing 
south, we can detect no salient difference till we reach 
the Olchones, a coast tribe between San Francisco and 
Monterey; the sun here begins to be connected, or iden- 
tified by name, with that great spirit, or rather, that Big 
Man, who made the earth and who rules in the sky. 20 
So we find it again both around Monterey and around 
San Luis Obispo; the first fruits of the earth were offered 
in these neighborhoods to the great light, and his rising 
was greeted with cries of joy. 21 

Father Gerunimo Boscana 22 gives us the following 

w Powers' Porno, MS. 

20 B'echey's Voy., vol. ii., p. 78. 

21 Fages, in Nouvelles Annates des Voy., vol. ci., pp. 31G, 335. 

22 Father Boscana, one of the earliest missionaries to Upper California, 
left behind him the short manuscript history from which the tradition follow- 
ing in the text has been taken, — through the medium of a now rare transla- 
tion by Mr Ilobinson. Filled with the prejudices of its age and of the profes- 
sion of its author, it is yet marvelously truthlike; though a painstaking care 
has evidently been used with regard to its most apparently insignificant 
details, there are none of those too visible wrenchings after consistency, and 
fillings up of lacunae which so surely betray the hand of the sophisticates 
in so many monkish manuscripts on like and kindred subjects. There are 
found on the other hand frank confessions of ignorance on doubtful points, 
and many naive and puzzled comments on the whole. It is apparently the 

Vol. III., 11. 


relation of the faith and worship of the Acagchemem 
nations, in the valley and neighborhood of San Juan 
Capistrano, California. Part of it would Ml naturally 
into that part of this work alloted to origin ; but the 
whole is so intimately mixed with so much concerning 
the life, deeds, and worship of various supernatural per- 
sonages that it has seemed better to fit its present position 
than any other. Of the first part of the tradition there 
are two versions — if indeed they be versions of the same 
tradition. We give first that version held b}^ the serranos, 
or highlanders, of the interior country, three or four 
leagues inland from the said San Juan Capistrano : — 

Before the material world at all existed there lived two 
beings, brother and sister, of a nature that can not be 
explained; the brother living above, and his name 
meaning the Heavens, the sister living below and her 
name signifying Earth. From the union of these two, 
there sprang a numerous offspring. Earth and sand 
were the first fruits of this marriage; then were born 
rocks and stones; then trees both great and small; then 
grass and herbs ; then animals ; lastly was born a great 
personage called Ouiot, who was a ''grand captain." By 
some unknown mother many children of a medicine race 
were born to this Ouiot. All these things happened 
in the north; and afterward when men were created 
they were created in the north ; but as the people multi- 
plied they moved toward the south, the earth growing 
larger also and extending itself in the same direction. 

In process of time, Ouiot becoming old, his chil- 
dren plotted to kill him, alleging that the infirmities of 

longest and the most valuable notice in existence on the religion of a nation of 
the native Californiaiis, as existing at the time of the Spanish conquest, and 
more worthy of confidence than the general run of such documents of any 
date whatever. The father procured his information as follows. He says: 
' God assigned to me three aged Indians, the youngest of whom was over 
seventy years of age. They knew all the secrets, for two of them were 
capitanes, and the other a pul, who were well instructed in the mysteries. By 
gifts, endearments, and kindness, I elicited from them their secrets, with 
their explanations; and by witnessing the ceremonies which they performed, 
I learned by degrees, their mysteries. Thus, by devoting a portion of the 
nights to profound meditation, and comparing their actions with their dis- 
closures, I was enabled after a long time, to acquire a knowledge of their re- 
ligion.' Bosccuia, in Iiobinson's Life in (.'«/., p. 23G. 


age made him unfit any longer to govern them or attend 
to their welfare. So they put a strong poison in his 
drink, and when he drank of it a sore sickness came 
upon him; he rose up and left his home in the 
mountains and went down to what is now the sea- shore, 
though at that time there was no sea there. His mother, 
whose name is the Earth, mixed him an antidote in a 
large shell, and set the potion out in the sun to brew; 
but the fragrance of it attracted the attention of the 
Coyote, who came and overset the shell. So Ouiot sick- 
ened to death, and though he told his children that he 
would shortly return and be with them again, lie has 
never been seen since. All the people made a great 
pile of wood and burnt his body there, and just as the 
ceremony began the Coyote leaped upon the bod} 7 , saying 
that he would burn with it; but he only tore a piece of 
flesh from the stomach and ate it and escaped. After 
that the title of the Coyote was changed from Eyacque, 
which means Sub-captain, to Eno, that is to say, Thief 
and Cannibal. 

When now the funeral rites were over, a general conn- 
cil was held and arrangements made for collecting ani- 
mal and vegetal >le food; for up to this time the children 
and descendants of Ouiot had nothing to eat but a kind 
of white clay. And while they consulted together, ber 
hold a marvelous thing appeared before them, and they 
spoke to it saying: Art thou our captain, Ouiot. But the 
spectre said: Nay, for I am greater than Ouiot; my 
habitation is above, and my name is Chinigchinich. 
Then he spoke further, having been told for what they 
were come together : I create all things, and I go now to 
make man, another people like unto } r ou; as for you I 
give you power, each after his kind, to produce all good 
and pleasant things. One of you shall bring rain, and 
another dew, and another make the acorn grow, and 
others other seeds, and yet others shall cause all kinds of 
game to abound in the land ; and your children ' shall 
have this power for ever, and they shall be sorcerers to 
the men I go to create, and shall receive gifts of them, 


that the game fail not and the harvests be sure. Then 
Chinigchinich made man; out of the clay of the lake he 
forme;! him, male and female; and the present Califor- 
nians are the descendants of the one or more pairs there 
and thus created. 

So ends the known tradition of the mountaineers; 
we must now go hack and take up the story anew at its 
beginning, as told by the jplayanos, or people of the valley 
of San Juan Capistrano. These saj* that an invisible 
all-powerful being, called Xocuma, made the world and 
all that it contains of things that grow and move. He 
made it round like a ball and held it in his hands, where 
it rolled about a good deal at first, till he steadied it by 
sticking a heavy black rock called tosaut into it, as a kind 
of ballast. The sea was at this time only a little stream 
running round the world, and so crowded with fish that 
their twinkling fins had no longer room to move; so 
great was the press that some of the more foolish fry 
were for effecting a landing and founding a colony, 
upon the dry land, and it was only with the utmost 
difficulty that they were persuaded by their elders, that 
the killing air and baneful sun and the want of feet must 
infallibly prove the destruction before many days of all 
who took part in such a desperate enterprise. The proper 
plan was evidently to improve and enlarge their present 
home ; and to this end, principally by the aid of one very 
large fish, they broke the great rock tosaut in two, find- 
ing a bladder in the centre filled with a very bitter sub- 
stance. The taste of it pleased the fish, so they emptied 
it into the water, and instantly the water became salt 
and swelled up and overflowed a great part of the old 
earth, and made itself the new boundaries that remain 
to this day. 

Then Xocuma created a man, shaping him out of the 
soil of the earth, calling him Ejoni. A woman also the 
great god made, presumably of the same material as the 
man, calling her Ae. Man}* children were born to this 
first pair, and their descendants multiplied over the land. 
The name of one of these last was Sirout, that is to say, 


Handful of Tobacco, and the name of his wife was Yca- 
iut, which means Above ; and to Sirout and Ycaiut was 
born a son, while the}' lived in a place north-east about 
eight leagues from San Juan Capistrano. The name of 
this son was Ouiot, that is to say Dominator; he grew a 
fierce and redoubtable warrior; haughty, ambitious, tyran- 
nous, he extended his lordship on every side, ruling 
everywhere as with a rod of iron ; and the people con- 
spired against him. It was determined that he should 
die by poison; a piece of the rock tosaut was ground up 
in so deadly a way that its mere external application 
was sufficient to cause death. Ouiot, notwithstanding 
that he held himself constantly on the alert, having been 
warned of his danger by a small burrowing animal called 
the cacumel, was unable to avoid his fate ; a few grains 
of the cankerous mixture were dropped upon his breast 
while he slept, and the strong mineral ate its way to the 
very springs of his life. All the wise men of the land 
were called to his assistance; but there was nothing for 
him save to die. His body was burned on a great pile 
with songs of joy and dances, and the nation rejoiced. 

"While the people were gathered to this end, it was 
thought advisable to consult on the feasibility of pro- 
curing seed and flesh to eat instead of the clay which 
had up to this time been the sole food of the human 
family. And while they yet talked together, there ap- 
peared to them, coming they knew not whence, one 
called Attajen, "which name implies man, or rational 
being." And Attajen, understanding their desires, chose 
out certain of the ciders among them, and to these gave 
he power; one that he might cause rain to fall, to an- 
other that he might cause game to abound, and so with 
the rest, to each his pow r er and gift, and to the successors 
of each for ever. These were the first medicine-men. 

Many years having elapsed since the death of Ouiot, 
there appeared in the same place one called Ouiamot, 
reputed son of Tacu and Auzar — people unknown, but 
natives, it is thought by Boscana, of " some distant land." 
This Ouiamot is better known by his great name Chinig- 


chinich, which means Almighty. He first manifested 
his powers to the people on a day when they had met in 
congregation for some purpose or other; he appeared 
dancing before them crowned with a kind of high 
crown made of tall feathers stuck into a circlet of some 
kind, girt with a kind of petticoat of feathers, and having 
his flesh painted black and red. Thus decorated he was 
called the tohet. Having danced some time, Chinigchinich 
called out the medicine-men, or pwplems as they were 
called, among whom it would appear the chiefs are 
always numbered, and confirmed their power; telling 
them that he had come from the stars, to instruct them 
in dancing and all other things, and commanding that 
in all their necessities they should array themselves in 
the tohet, and so dance as he had danced, supplicating 
him by his great name, that thus they might receive 
of their petitions. He taught them how to worship 
him, how to build vanquechs, or places of worship, and 
how to direct their conduct in various affairs of life. 
Then he prepared to die, and the people asked him if 
they should bury him; but he warned them against 
attempting such a thing: If ye buried me, he said, ye 
would tread upon my grave, and for that my hand would 
be heavy upon you ; look to it, and to all your ways, 
for lo, I go up where the high stars are, where mine eyes 
shall see all the ways of men ; and whosoever will not 
keep my commandments nor observe the things I have 
taught, behold disease shall plague all his bod}', and no 
food shall come near his lips, the bear shall rend his 
flesh, and the crooked tooth of the serpent shall sting 

The vanquech. or place of worship, seems to have been 
an unroofed inclosure of stakes, within which, on a 
hurdle, was placed the image of the god Chinigchinich. 
This image was the skin of a coyote or that of a mount- 
ain-cat stuffed with the feathers of certain birds, and 
with various other things, so that it looked like a live 
animal ; a bow and some arrows were attached to it on the 
outside, and other arrows were thrust down its throat so 


that the feathers of them appeared at the mouth as out 
of a quiver. The whole place of the inclosure was 
sacred, and not to be approached without reverence; it 
does not seem that sacrifices formed any part of the wor- 
ship there offered, but only prayer, and sometimes a kind 
of pantonine connected with the undertaking desired to 
be furthered — thus, desiring success in hunting one 
mimicked the actions of the chase, leaping and twanging 
one's bow. Each vanquech was a city of refuge, with 
rights of sanctuary exceeding any ever granted in Jewish 
or Christian countries. Not only was every criminal 
safe there whatever his crime, but the crime was as it 
were blotted out from that moment, and the offender was 
at liberty to leave the sanctuary and walk about as 
before ; it was not lawful even to mention his crime ; all 
that the avenger could do was to point at him and deride 
him, saying: Lo, a coward, who has been forced to flee to 
Chinigchinich ! This flight was rendered so much a 
meaner thing in that it only turned the punishment from 
the head of him that fled upon that of some of his rela- 
tives; life went for life, eye for eye, and tooth for tooth, 
even to the third and fourth generation, for justice' sake. 
Besides Chinigchinich they worshiped, or at any rate 
feared, a god called Touch; who inhabited the moun- 
tains and the bowels of the earth, appearing, however, 
from time to time in the form of various animals of a 
terrifying kind. Every child at the age of six or seven 
received, sent to him from this god, some animal as a 
protector. To find out what this animal or spirit in the 
shape of animal was, narcotic drinks were swallowed, or 
the subject fasted and watched in the vanquech for a 
given time, generally three days. He whose rank 
entitled him to wait for his guardian apparition in the 
sacred inclosure, was set there by the side of the god's 
image, and on the ground before him was sketched by 
one of the wise men an uncouth figure of some animal. 
The child was then left to complete his vigil, being 
warned at the same time to endure its hardships with 
patience, in that any attempt to infringe upon its rules, 


by eating or drinking or otherwise, would be reported to 
the god by the sprawling figure the enchanter had drawn 
in the clay, and that in such a case the punishment of 
Chinigchinich would be terrible. After all this was 
over, a scar was made on the child's right arm, and some- 
times on the thick part of the leg also, by covering the 
part, '* according to the figure required," with a peculiar 
herb dried and powdered, and setting fire to it. This 
was a brand or seal required by Chinigchinich, and was 
besides supposed to strengthen the nerves and give "a 
better pulse for the management of the bow." 23 

TheAcagchemems, like many other Californian tribes, 24 
regard the great buzzard with sentiments of veneration, 
while the}* seem to have had connected with it several 
rites and ideas peculiar to themselves. They called this 
bird the panes, and once every year the}* had a festival of 
the same name, in which the principal ceremony was the 
killing of a buzzard without losing a drop of its blood. 
It was next skinned, all possible care being taken to pre- 
serve the feathers entire, as these were used- in making 
the feathered petticoat and diadem, already described as 
part of the tobet. Last of all the body was buried within 
the sacred inclosure amid great apparent grief from the 
old women, they mourning as over the loss of rela- 
tive or friend. Tradition explained this: the panes 
had indeed been once a woman, whom, wandering in the 
mountain ways, the great god Chinigchinich had come 
suddenly upon and changed into a bird. How this was 
connected with the killing of her anew every year by 
the people, and with certain extraordinary ideas held 
relative to that killing is, however, by no means clear; 
for it was believed that as often as the bird was killed it 
was made alive again, and more, and faith to move 
mountains — that the birds killed in one same yearly feast 
in many separate villages were one and the same bird. 
How these things were or why, none knew, it was enough 

23 See p. 113, of this volume, for a custom among the Mexicans not with- 
out analogies to this. 

2i See p. 131, of this volume. 


that tlicj were a commandment and ordinance of Chinig- 
chinich, whose ways were not as the ways of men. 25 

The Pericues of Lower California were divided into 
two sects, worshiping two hostile divinities who made 
a war of extermination upon each other. The tradition 
explains that there was a great lord in heaven, called 
Niparaya, who made earth and sea, and was almighty 
and invisible. His wife was Anayicoyondi, a goddess 
who, though possessing no body, bore him in a divinely 
mysterious manner three children ; one of whom, Quaaj'- 
ayp, was a real man and born on earth, on the Acaragui 
mountains. Very powerful this young god was, and a 
long time he lived with the ancestors of the Pericues, 
whom it is almost to be inferred that he created ; at any rate 
we are told that he was able to make men, drawing them 
up out of the earth. The men at .last killed this their 
great hero and teacher, and put a crown of thorns upon 
his head. 20 Somewhere or other he remains lying dead 
to this day, and he remains constantly beautiful, neither 
does his bodj^ know corruption. Blood drips constantly 
from his wounds, and he can speak no more, being dead ; 
yet there is an owl that speaks to him. And besides the 
before-spoken-of god Niparaya in heaven, there was 
another and hostile god called Wac or Tuparan. Accord- 
ing to the Xipara}^ sect, this Wac had made war on their 
favorite god, and been by him defeated and cast forth of 
heaven into a cave under the earth, of which cave the 
whales of the sea were the guardians. With a perverse, 
though not unnatural, obstinacy the sect that held Wac or 
Tuparan to be their great god persisted in holding ideas 
peculiar to themselves with regard to the truth of the 
foregoing story; and their account of the great war in 
heaven and its results differed from the other, as differ the 
creeds of heterodox and orthodox everywhere ; the}' ascribe. 
for example, part of the creation to other gods besides 

25 Boscana, in Pu/hinson's Life in CaL, pp. 242-301. 

2G The Christian leaven, whose workings are evident through this narra- 
tive, ferments here too violent!}" to need pointing out. 


Niparaya. 27 The Cochimis and remaining natives of the 
Californian peninsula seem to have held in the main 
much the same ideas with regard to the gods and powers 
above them as the Pericues held, and the sorcerers of all 
had the common blowings, leapings, fastings, and other 
mummeries that make these professors of the sinister art 
so much alike everywhere in our territory. 28 

The natives of Xevada have ideas respecting a great 
kind Spirit of some kind, as well as a myth concerning 
an evil one ; but they have no special class set apart as 
medicine-men. 29 The Utah belief seems to be as nearly 
as possible identical with that of Xevada. 30 

The Comanches acknowledge more or less vaguely a 
Supreme Spirit, but seem to use the Sun and the Earth 
as mediators with and, in some sort, as embodiments of 
him. They have a recognized body of sorcerers called 
puyacantes, and various religious ceremonies and chants; 
for the most part of a simple kind, and directed to the Sun 
as the great source of life, and to the Earth as the pro- 
ducer and receptacle of all that sustains life. According 
to the Abbe Uomenech, every Comanche wears a little 
figure of the sun, attached to his neck, or has a picture of 
it painted on his shield ; from the ears of each hang also 
two crescents, which may possibly represent the moon. 31 

The Apaches recognize a supreme power in heaven 
under the name Yaxtaxitaxitanne, the creator and master 
of all things ; but the}' render him no open service nor wor- 
ship. To any taciturn cunning man the}' are accustomed 
to credit intercourse with a preternatural power of some 
kind, and to look to him as a sort of oracle in various 
emergencies. This is, in fact, their medicine-man, and 

27 See pp. 83-4, this volume. 

- s Venegas, Notivias delaCal., torn, i., pp. 102-124; Clavigero, Storia della 
Cal., torn, i., pp. 135-141; Humboldt, Essai Pol., torn, i., p. 314. 

29 Virginia City Chronicle, quoted iu S. F. Dally Ev'g Post, of Oct. 12th, 
1372; Browne's Lower Cal., p. 188. 

30 De Smet's Letters, p. 41. 

31 Parker, iu Schoolcraft's Arch., vol. v., p. GS4; Whipple, Ewbank, and 
Turmr's Bept., pp. 35-0, in Vac. 11. B. Rept., vol. iii.; Barreiro, Ojeada sobre 
X. Mex., up. p. 8; Filley's Life and Adven., p. 82; Marcy's Army Life, pp. oH, 
G4; Domenech, Jour, d'un Miss., pp. 13, 131, 4G'J. 


in cases of illness he pretends to perform cures by the 
aid of herbs and ceremonies of various kinds. 32 

The Navajos, having the usual class of sorcerers, call 
their good deity TVhaillahay, and their evil one Chinday ; 
the principal use of their good god seems to be to protect 
them from their evil one. In smoking they sometimes 
puff their tobacco-smoke toward heaven with great for- 
mality; this is said to bring rain; to the same end cer- 
tain long round stones, thought to be cast down by the 
clouds in a thunderstorm, are used with various cere- 

The sun, moon, and stars are thought to be powers 
connected with rain and fine weather ; while the god Mon- 
tezuma of their Pueblo neighbors is unknown anions 
them." 3 

All the Pueblo cities, though speaking different lan- 
guages hold substantialy the same faith. They seem to 
assent to the statement of the existence of a great and 
good spirit whose name is too sacred to be mentioned ; 
but most say that Montezuma is his equal; and some, 
again, that the Sun is the same as or equal to Montezuma. 
There are, besides, the lesser divinities of water, — Mon- 
tezuma being considered in one aspect as the great rain- 
god, and as such often, mentioned as being aided by or 
being in connection with a serpent. Over and above 
all these, the existence of a general class or body of evil 
spirits is taken for granted. 

Many places in New Mexico claim to be the birthplace 
of the great leader, teacher, and god Montezuma. At 
any rate he is traditionally supposed to have appeared 
among the Pueblos before they had arrived at or built 
their present towns. Some traditions would make him 
either the ancestor or the creator of the same people ; but 

32 Barrelro, Ojeada sobre N. Mex., ap. pp. 2-3; Henry, in Schoolcraft's 
Arch., vol. v., p. 212. 

33 Crofutt's Western World, Aug. 1872, p. 27; Whipple, Ewbank, and Tur- 
ner's Rept., p. 42, in Pac. R. R, Rept., vol. iii.; Ten Broeck, in Schoolcraft's 
Arch., vol. iv., p. 91; Bristol, in Tad. Aff. Rept., Special Com., 1807, p. 358; 
Brinton's Jit/Iks, p. 158; Domenech's Deserts, vol. ii., p. 4.02. 


the most regard him as a kind of semi or wholl}' divine 
priest, prophet, leader, and legislator. Under restric- 
tions pointed ont in a former note, 34 we may fairly regard 
him as at once the Melchizedek, the Moses, and the 
Messiah of these Puehlo desert wanderers from an Egypt 
that history is ignorant of, and whose name even tradi- 
tion whispers not. He taught his people to build cities 
with tall houses, to construct estufas, or semi-sacred 
sweat-houses, and to kindle and guard the sacred fire. 

At Acoma, it is said by some, was established the first 
Pueblo, and thence the people marched southward, form- 
ing others. Acoma was one, and Pecos another. At 
this last, Montezuma planted a tree upside down, and 
said that, on his leaving them, a strange nation should 
oppress them for many years, years also in which there 
should be no rain, but that they were to persist in 
watching the sacred fire until the tree fell, when he 
would return, with a white race which should destroy 
their enemies ; and then rain should fall again and the 
earth be fertile. It is said that this tree fell from its 
abnormal position, as the American army entered Santa 

The watching of the fire, kept up in subterranean 
estufas. under a covering of ashes generally, and in the 
basin of a small altar, was no light task. The warriors 
took the post by turns, some said, for two successive days 
and nights, sans food, sans drink, sans sleep, sans every- 
thing. Others affirm that this watching was kept up 
till exhaustion and even death relieved the guard — the 
last not to be wondered at, seeing the insufferable close- 
ness of the place and the accumulation of carbonic acid. 
The remains of the dead were, it was sometimes supposed, 
carried off by a monstrous serpent. This holy fire was 
believed to be the palladium of the city, and the watch- 
ers by it could well dream of that da}', when, coming 
with the sun, Montezuma should descend by the column 
of smoke whose roots they fed, and should fill the shabby 

34 See pp. 77-8, note 3G, this volume. ' 


little estufa with a glory like that in a wilderness taber- 
nacle they knew not of, where a more awful pillar of 
smoke shadowed the mystic cherubim. Hope dies hard, 
and the dim memories of a great past never quite fade 
away from among any people. JN r o true-born British 
bard ever doubted of Arthur's return from his kingly 
rest in Avalon, nor that the flash of Excalibar should be 
one day again as the lightning of death in the eyes of 
the hated Saxon. The herders on the shore of Lucerne 
know that were Switzerland in peril, the Tell would 
spring from his sleep as at the crack of doom. " When 
Germany is at her lowest then is her greatness nearest" 
say the weird old ballads of that land; for then shall the 
Great Kaiser rise from the vault in the Kyffhauser, — Bar- 
barossa shall rise, though his beard be grown through the 
loirj; stone table. Neither is the Frank without his 
savior: Sing, troubadours, sing and strike the chords 
proudly! "Who shall prevail while Charlemagne but 
sleeps in the shadow of the Untersberg? — And so our 
Pueblo sentinel climbing the housetop at Pecos, looking 
ever eastward from Santo Domingo on the Rio Grande ; 
he too waits for the beautiful feet upon the mountains 
and the plumes of him — 

Who dwelt tip in the yellow sun, 
And sorrowing for man's despair, 
Slid by his trailing yellow hair 
To earth, to rule with love and bring 
The blessedness of peace. 35 

The Pueblo chiefs seem to be at the same time priests; 
they perform the various simple rites by which the power 
of the sun and of Montezuma is recognized as well as 
the power — according to some accounts — of " the Great 
Snake, to whom by order of Montezuma they are to look 
for life;" they also officiate in certain ceremonies with 
which they pray for rain. There are painted represen- 
tations of the Great Snake, together with that of a mis- 
shapen red-haired man declared to stand for Montezuma. 
Of this last there was also in 1845, in the pueblo of 

35 Joaquin Mlllefs Californian. 


Laguna, a rude effigy or idol, intended, apparently, to 
represent only the head of the deity; it was made of 
tanned skin in the form of a brimless hat or cylinder 
open at the bottom. Half-way round, it was painted 
red; the other half was green. The green side was 
rudely marked to suggest a face: two triangles were cut 
for eyes; there was no nose; a circular leather patch 
served for a mouth, and two other patches in an 
appropriate situation suggested ears. Crowning the 
head was a small tuft of leather, said to be supplemented 
by feathers on festal occasions. A sorry image one 
would say, yet one looked upon by its exhibitors with 
apparently the greatest veneration; they kneeling in a 
most devoted manner, going through a form of prayer, 
and sprinkling it with a white powder. One of the 
worshipers said it was God and the brother of God ; 
and the people bring it out in dry seasons, and, with 
dancing and other rites, invoke it for rain. 

Christianity has now effaced the memory of most of 
the rites of the Pueblo religion, but Dr Ten Broeck 
noticed that many of the worshipers at the Christian 
church in Laguna carried little baskets in their hands 
containing images of domestic animals, or of beasts of the 
chase, molded in mud or dough: it being the custom, as 

/ D 7. o 

it had been there from time immemorial, for those that 
had been successful in the chase, or in accumulating 
cattle, to bring such simulachres of their prosperity before 
the altar of God. — probably, a modification produced by 
the poverty of the people of a rite as old as the altar of 
Abel, to wit. the offering of the firstlings and firstfruits to 
that Deity whose blessing had given the increase. 

It has been affirmed, without much foundation or pro- 
bability of truth, that the Pueblos worshiped fire and 
water. 36 

3U Gregg's Corn. "Prairies, vol. i., pp. 271-3; DnvW EI Gringo, pp. 142, 390 ; 

)son's Overland Journ., pp. 21-3: Domenech's Deserts, vol. i.. pp. 164-5, 418, 

vol. ii., pp. 62-3, 401; Mollhausen. Tac,ebuch, pp. 170, 219. 2fei; Meline's Two 

TV..,,,..,/,,,/ if:/,.., .-. -., ii i /. — nnn ,),w. x>....^,'., 1.7,.^,, :«- i/„,. ^ iQQ. 


The Moquis know nothing of Montezuma ; they believe 
in a Great Father, living where the sun rises, and in a 
great Mother, whose home is where the sun goes down. 
This Father is the father of evil, war, pestilence, and 
famine; but from the mother are all their joy, peace, 
plenty, and health. 37 

The Mojaves tell of a certain Matevil, creator of hea- 
ven and earth, who was wont in time past to remain 
among them in a certain grand casa. This habitation 
was, however, by some untoward event broken down ; 
the nations were destroyed ; and Matevil departed east- 
ward. Whence, in the latter days, he will again return 
to consolidate, prosper, and live with his people forever. 
This Matevil, or Mathowelia, has a son called Mastamho, 
who made the water and planted trees. There is also 
an Evil Spirit Newathie/ 


From a letter just received from Judge Roseborough, 
I am enabled to close this chapter with some new and 
valuable facts regarding the religious ideas of certain 
tribes — not accurately specified — of the north-west por- 
tion of Upper California. The learned judge has given 
unusual attention to the subject of which lie writes, and his 
opportunities for procuring information must have been 
frequent during ten years of travel and residence in the 
districts of the northern counties of California : — 

Among the tribes in the neighborhood of Trinity river 
is found a legend relating to a certain Wappeckquemow, 
who was a giant, and apparently the father and leader of 

370. Fremont gives an account of the birth of Montezuma : His mother was, 
it is said, a woman of exquisite beauty, admired and sought after by all men, 
they making her presents of corn and skins and all that they had; but the 
fastidious beaxity would accept nothing of them but their gilts. In process 
of time a season of drought brought on a famine and much distress; then it 
was that the rich lady showed her charity to be as great in one direction as 
it had been wanting in another. She opened her granaries and the tufts of 
the lovers she had not loved went to releave the hungry she pitied. At last 
with rain, fertility returned to the earth; and on the chaste Artemis of the 
Pueblos its touch fell too. She bore a son to the thick summer shower and 
that son was Montezuma. 

37 Ten Broeck, in Schoolcraft's Arch., vol. iv., pp. 85-6. 

38 Whipple, Ewbank, and Turner's Eept, pp. 42-3, in Pac. B. jR. Rept, 
vol. iii.; Dodt, in Ind. Aff. Kept., 1870, p. 129. 


a pre-human race like himself. He was expelled from the 
country that he inhabited — near the mouth of the Kla- 
math — for disobeying or offending; some great god, and a 
curse was pronounced against him, so that not even his 
descendants should ever return to that land. On the 
expulsion of these Anakim, the ancestors of the people to 
whom this legend belongs came down from the north- 
west, a direction of migration, according to Judge Rose- 
borough, uniformly adhered to in the legends of all the 
tribes of north-west California. These new settlers, how- 
ever, like their predecessors of the giant race, quarreled 
with the great god and were abandoned by him to their 
own devices, being given over into the hands of certain 
evil powers or devils. Of these the first is Omaha, who, 
possessing the shape of a grizzly bear, is invisible and 
goes about everywhere bringing sickness and misfortune 
on mankind. Next there is Makalay, a fiend with a horn 
like a unicorn; he is swift as the wind and moves by 
great leaps like a kangaroo. The sight of him is usually 
death to mortals. There is, thirdly, a dreadful being 
called Kalicknateck. who seems a faithful reproduction of 
the great thunder-bird of the north: thus Kalicknateck 
'• is a huge bird that sits on the mountain-peak, and broods 
in silence over his thoughts until hungry; when he will 
sweep down over the ocean, snatch up a large whale, and 
cany it to his mountain-throne, for a single meal." 

Besides the before-mentioned powers of evil, these 
Trinity people have legends connected with other person- 
ages of the same nature, among whom are Wanuswegock, 
Surgelp, Napousney, and Xequiteh. 

When white miners first came to work on the Trinity 
River, their advent caused, as may be imagined, much 
unsatisfactory speculation among the aborigines; some 
saying one thing of the whites and some another. At 
last an old seer of the Hoopah Yalley settled the question 
by declaring that the new-comers were descendants of 
that banished Wappeckquemow, from whose heads the 
already-mentioned curse, forbidding their return, had 
been by some means lifted. 


The coast people in northern California have 
a story about a mysterious people called Hohgates, 
to whom is ascribed an immense bed of mussel- 
shells and bones of animals still existing on the 
table-land of Point St George, near Crescent City. 
These Hohgates, seven in number, are said to have 
come to the place in a boat, to have built themselves 
"houses above-ground, after the style of white men" 
— all this about the time* that the first natives came 
down the coast from the north. These Hohgates, living 
at the point mentioned, killed many elk on land, and 
many seals and sea-lions in fishing excursions from their 
boats; using for the latter purpose a kind of harpoon 
made of a knife attached to a stick, and the whole fastened 
to the boat with a long line. They also sailed frequently 
to certain rocks, and loaded their little vessels with mus- 
sels. By all this they secured plenty of food, and the 
refuse of it, the bones and shells and so on, rapidly 
accumulated into the great Jcjokken modeling still to be 
seen. One day, however, all the Hohgates being out at 
sea in their boat, they struck a huge sea-lion with their 
rude harpoon, and, unable or unwilling to cut or throw 
off their line, were dragged with fearful speed toward a 
great whirlpool, called Chareckquin, that lay far toward 
the north-west. It is the place where souls go, where 
in darkness and cold the spirits shiver for ever; living 
men suffer even from its winds, — from the north-west 
wind, the bleak and bitter Charreck-rawek. And just 
as the boat reached the edge of this fearful place, behold, 
a marvelous thing: the rope broke and the sea-monster 
was swept down alone into the whirl of wind and water, 
while the Hohgates were caught up into the air; swing- 
ing round and round, their boat floated steadily up into the 
vast of heaven. Nevermore on earth were the llohirates 
^ciiw, but there are seven stars in heaven that all men 
know of, and these stars are the seven Hohgates that 
once lived where the great shell-bed near Crescent City 
now is. 

Vol. III. 12 



G-dds and Religious Eites of Chihuahua, Sonoea, Durango, and Sin- 
aloa — The Mexican Religion, received with diffeeent degrees of 
credulity by different classes of the people — Opinions of diffee- 
ent Writers as to its Nature — Monotheism of Nezahualcoyotl — 
Present condition of the Study of Mexican Mythology — Tezcatli- 
poca — Prayers to Him in time of Pestilence, of War, for those 
in Authority — Prayer used by an Absolving Priest — Genuineness of 
the foregoing Prayees — Chaeactee and Works of Sahagun. 

From the Pueblo cities let us now pass clown into 
Mexico, glancing first at the northern and north-western 
neighbors of this great people that ruled on the plateau 
of Anahuac. The Chihuahuans worshiped a great god 
called by them the ' captain of heaven' and recognized 
a lesser divinity as abiding in and inspiring their priests 
and medicine-men. They rendered homage to the sun; 
and when any comet or other phenomenon appeared in 
the heavens they offered sacrifice thereto; their sacrifice 
being much after the Mexican fashion; fruits, herbs, and 
.such things as the}' had, together with blood drawn from 
their bodies by the pricks of a thorn. 1 

In Sonora, — the great central heart of Mexico making 
its beatings more and more clearly felt as we approach 
it nearer, — the vague feelings of awe and reverence with 
which the savage regards the unseen, unknown, and un- 
knowable powers, begin at last to somewliat lose their 

i Soc. Mex. Geotj., Boletin, torn. iii. , p. 22; Doc. Hist. Mex., serie iv. 3 torn. 
iii.,p.86. (1?8) 


vagueness and to crystallize into the recognition of a 
power to be represented and symbolized by a god made 
with hands. The offerings thereto begin also, more and 
more, to lose their primitive simple shape, and the blood, 
without which is no remission of sins, stains the rude 
altar that a more Arcadian race had only heaped with 
flowers and fruit. The natives of Sonora bring, says Las 
Casas, "many deer, wolves, hares, and birds before a 
large idol, w r ith music of many flutes and other instru- 
ments of theirs; then cutting open the animals through 
the middle, they take out their hearts and hang them 
round the neck of the image, wetting it with the flowing 
blood. It is certain that the only offering made in all 
this province of Sonora was the hearts of brutes." 2 All 
this they did more especially in two great festivals they 
had, the one at seed-time, the other at harvest ; and we have 
reason to rejoice that the thing was no worse, reason to 
be i^lad that the hearts of brave men and fair women, and 
soft children not knowing their right hand from their left, 
were not called for, as in the land of the eagle and cactus 
banner, to feed that devil's Minotaur, superstition. 

The people of Durango called the principal power in 
which they believed Meyuncame, that is to say, Maker 
of All Things; they had another god, Caehiripa, whose 
name is all we know of him. They had besides innu- 
merable private idols, penates of all possible and impos- 
sible figures; some being stone, shaped by nature only. 
In one village they worshiped a great flint knife that 
their flint implements of every kind might be good and 
sure. They had gods of storm and gods of sunshine, 
gods of good and gods of evil, gods of everything in 
heaven above or in the earth beneath or in the waters 
under the earth. Their idols received bloody sacrifices, 
not always of beasts; a bowl containing beans and the 
cooked human flesh of an enemy was offered to them 
for success in war. 3 

2 Las Casas, Hist. Apologetica, MS., torn, iii., cap. 1G8; Smith's Relation 
of Cabeza de Vaca, p. 177. 

3 Ribas, Hist, de los Triumphos, pp. 173-5; Doc. Hist. Mex., serie iv., torn. 
iii., p. -IS. 


Much of the preceding paragraph belongs also to Sin- 
aloa or cannot be exactly located more in the one province 
than in the other. The Sinaloas are said to have 
venerated above all the other gods one called Cocohuame, 
which is, being interpreted, Death. They worshiped also 
a certain Ouraba, 4 which is Valor, offering him bows, 
arrows, and all kinds of instruments of war. To Sehua- 
toba, that is to say Pleasure, they sacrificed feathers, 
raiment, beads of glass, and women's ornaments. Bam- 
usehua was the god of water. In some parts, it is said, 
there was recognized a divine element in common herbs 
and birds. One deity — or devil, asRibas calls him with 
the exquisite courtesy that distinguishes the theosophic 
historian — was the especial patron of a class of wizards 
closely resembling the shamans and medicine-men of 
the north. No one seemed to know exactly the powers 
of this deity, but everyone admitted their extent by re- 
cognizing with a respectful awe their effects; effects 
brought about through the agency of the wizards, 
by the use of bags, rattles, magic stones, blowings, suck- 
ings, and all that routine of sorcery with which we are 
already familiar. This deity was called Grandfather or 
Ancestor. 5 

One Sinaloa nation, the Tabus, in the neighborhood 
of Culiacan, reared great serpents for which they had 
a good deal of veneration. They propitiated their gods 
with offerings of precious stones and rich stuffs, but they 
did not sacrifice men. With an altogether characteris- 
tic insinuation, the Abbe Domenech says, that though 
highly immoral in the main, they so highly respected 
women who devoted themselves to a life of celibacv, 

4 Apparently the same as that Vairubi spoken of on p. 83 of this volume. 

s Ribas, Hist, de los Triumphos, pp. 10, 18, 40. 'A uno de sus dioses 11am- 
aban Ouraba, que quiere decir fortaleza. Era como Marte, dios de la guerra. 
Ofrecfanle arcos, fiechas y todo genero de annas para el feliz exito de sus 
bat alias. A otro llamaban Sehuatoba, que quiere decir, deleite, a quiin 
ofrecian plumas, mantas, cuentecillas de vidrio y adornos mugeriles. Al dios 
de las aguas llamaban Bamusehua. El mas venerado de todos era Coco- 
hname, que signifies muerte.' Alegre, Hist. Comp. de Jesus, torn, ii., p. 45. 
'They worship for their gods such things as they haue in their houses, as 
namely, hearbes, and birdes, and sing songs vnto them in their language. 
Curunado, in HakluyVs Voij.-, vol. iii., p. oG'6. 


that they held great festivals in their honor — 
leaving the reader to suppose that the Talius had a class 
of female religious who devoted themselves to a life of 
chastity and were respected for that reason; the truth is 
found to be, on referring to the author Castafieda — from 
whom apparently the abbe has taken this half truth 
and whole falsehood — that these estimable celibate women 
were the public prostitutes of the nation. 

The Mexican religion, as transmitted to us, is a con- 
fused and clashing chaos of fragments. If ever the great 
nation of Anahuac had its Ilesiod or its Homer, no ray 
of his light has reached the stumbling feet of research in 
that direction; no echo of his harmony has been ever 
heard by any ear less dull than that of a Zumarraga. It 
is given to few men to rise above their age, and it is 
folly to expect grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles ; yet it 
is hard to suppress wholly some feelings of regret, in 
poring upon those ponderous tomes of sixteenth and 
seventeenth century history that touch upon Mexican 
religion; one pities far less the inevitable superstition 
and childish ignorance of the barbarian than the senility 
of his Christian historian and critic — there was some 
element of hope and evidence of attainment in what the 
half-civilized barbarian knew; but from what heights of 
Athenian, Roman, and Alexandrian philosophy and elo- 
quence, had civilization fallen into the dull and arrogant 
nescience of the chronicles of the clergy of Spain. 

We have already noticed 7 the existence of at least two 
schools of religious philosophy in Mexico, two average 

G ' lis celebraient de grandes fetes en l'lionneur des femmes qui voulaient 
vivre dans le celibat. Les caciques d'un canton se reunissaient et dansaient 
mis, run aprea l'autre, avec la femme qui avait pris cette determination. 
Quand la danse etait terminee, ils la conduisaient dans une petite niaison 
qu'on avait decoree a cet effet, et ils jouissaient de sa personne, les caciques 
d' abord et ensuite tons ccux qui le voulaient. A dater de ce moment, elles 
ne pouvaient rien refuser a quiconque leur offrait le prix fixe pour cela. 
Elles n'c talent jamais dispensees de eette obligation, meme quand plus tard 
elles se mariaient.' Castafieda, in Ternaux-Compans, Voy., serie i., torn, ix., 
pp. 150-1. 'Although these men were very immoral, yet such was their re- 
spect for all women who led a life of celibacy, that they celebrated grand 
festivals in their honour.' And there he makes an end. Domenech's Deserts, 
vol. i., p. 170. 

7 This volume, pp. 55-6. 


levels of thought, the one that of the vulgar and credu- 
lous, the other that of the more enlightened and reflec- 
tive. It has resulted from this that different writers 
differ somewhat in their opinions with regard to the pre- 
cise nature and essence of that religion, some saying one 
thing and some another. I cannot show this more short- 
ly and — what is much more important in a subject like 
this — more exactly, than by quoting a number of these 
opinions : 

" Turning from the simple faiths of savage tribes of 
America, to the complex religion of the half-civilized 
Mexican nation, we find what we might naturally expect, 
a cumbrous polytheism complicated by mixture of several 
national pantheons, and beside and beyond this, certain 
appearances of a doctrine of divine supremacy. But 
these doctrines seem to have been spoken of more defi- 
nitely than the evidence warrants. A remarkable native 
development of Mexican theism must be admitted, in 
so far as we may receive the native historian Ixtlilxo- 
chitTs account of the worship paid by Nezahualcoyotl, 
the poet-king of Tezcuco, to the invisible supreme Tloque- 
Nahuaque, he who has all in him, the cause of causes, 
in whose star-roofed pyramid stood an idol, and who 
there received no bloody sacrifice, but only flowers and 
incense. Yet it would have been more satisfactory, were 
the stories told by this Aztec panegyrist of his royal an- 
cestors confirmed by other records. Traces of divinft 
supremacy in Mexican religion are especially associated 
with Tezcatlipoca, ' Shining Mirror,' a deity who seems 
in his original nature the Sun-god, and thence by ex- 
pansion to have become the soul of the world, creator of 
heaven and earth, lord of all things, Supreme Deity. 
Such conceptions may, in more or less measure, have 
arisen in native thought, but it should be pointed out 
that the remarkable Aztec religious formulas collected 
by Sahagun. in whictrthe deity Tezcatlipoca is so promi- 
nent a figure, show traces of Christian admixture in their 
material, as well as of Christian influence in their style. 
In distinct and absolute personality, the divine Sun in 


Aztec theology was Tonatiuh 8 whose huge pyramid- 
mound stands on the plain of Teotihuaean, a witness of 
his. worship for future ages. Bejond this the religion of 
Mexico, in its complex system, or congeries of great gods, 
such as results from the mixture and alliance of the 
deities of several nations, shows the solar element rooted 
deeply and widely in other personages of its divine nry- 
thology, and attributes especially to the sun the title of 
TeotCGod." 9 

" It is remarkable," says Professor J. G. Milller, " that 
the well-instructed Acosta should have known nothing 
about the adoration of a highest invisible God, under 
the name of Teotl. And yet this adoration has been re- 
ported in the most certain manner by others, and made 
evident from more exact statements regarding the nature 
of this deity. He has been surnamed Ipalnemoan, that 
is, He through whom we live, and Tloquenahuaque, that 
is, He who is all things through himself. He has been 
looked upon as the originator and essence of all things, 
and as especially throned in the high cloud-surrounded 
mountains. Rightly does Wuttke contend against any 
conception of this deity as a monotheistic one, the poly- 
theism of the people being considered — for polytheism and 
monotheism will not be yoked together; even if a logical 
concordance were found, the inner spirits of the princi- 
ples of the two would still be opposed to each other. 
Another argument stands also clearly out, in the total 
absence of any prayers, offerings, feasts, or temples to or 
in the honor of this god. From this it is evident that 
Teotl was not a god of the common people. Yet this, 
on the other hand, cannot justify us, — the so-frequently- 
occurring statements of well-informed authorities being 
taken into account, — in denying in toto all traces of a pan- 
theistic monotheism, as this latter may easily spring up 

8 I would call attention to the fact that Alvarado, the ruddy handsome 
Spanish captain, was called Tonatiuh by the Mexicans, just as Barnabas was 
called Jupiter, and Paul, Meicurius, by the people of Lystra — going to show 
how unfetish and anthropomorphic were the ideas connected with the sun- 
god by the Mexicans. 

9 Tylor's Prim. Cult., vol. ii., p. 311. 


among cultivated polytheists as a logical result and out- 
come of their natural religion. Nezahualcoyotl, the en- 
lightened king of Tezcuco, adored as the cause of causes, 
a god without an image. The chief of the Totonac 
aborigines of Gempoallan had, if we may credit the 
speech put in his mouth by Las Casas and Herrera, an 
idea of a highest god and creator. This abstract 
idea has also here, as in other parts of America, inter- 
twined itself with the conception of a sun-god. Hence 
the Mexicans named the sun-god pre-eminently Teotl; 
and that enlightened king of Tezcuco, who built a temple 
of nine stories— symbolizing the nine heavens — in honor 
of the stars, called the sun-god his father." 10 

" To the most ancient gods," says Klemm, u belonged 
the divinities of nature, as well as a highest being called 
Teotl, God. He was perfect, independent, and invisible, 
and consequently not represented by any image. His 
qualities were represented by expressions like these: 
He through whom we live, He who is all in himself. 
This god coincides very nearly with the Master of 
Life of the North Americans. In opposition to him 
is the evil spirit, the enemy of mankind, who often 
appears to and terrifies them. He is called Tlacate- 
cololotl, that is to say, Rational Owl, and may possi- 
bly, like the Lame-foot of the Peruvians, be a sur- 
vival from the times when the old hunter-nations in- 
habited the forests and mountains. Next to Teotl 

10 Mailer, Amerikanische Urreligionm, pp. 473-4. The sooften discussed 
resemblance in form and signification between the two Mexican words teotl 
and calli (see Molina, Vocabulario) and the two Greek words theos and 
kalia, is completely enough noticed by Midler . ' Die Mexikanischen Yolker 
haben einen Appellativnamen fur Gott, Teotl, welcher, da die Buchstaben 
tl blosse aztekische Endung sind, merkwiirdiger Weise mit dem Indoger- 
manischen theos, Deus, Deva, Dew, zusammenstimmt. Dieses Wort wird 
zur Bildung mancher Gotternamen oder Kultusgegenstande gebraucht. 
Hieher gehoren die Gotternamen Tcotlacozanqui, Teocipactli, Teotetl, 
Teoyamiqui, Tlozolteotl. Der Tempel heisst Teoealli (vgl. Kalia, Hi'itte, 
Kalias Capelle) oder wortHch Haus Gottes — das gottliche Buch, Teoamoxtli, 
Priestei Teopuixqui, oder auch Teoteuktli, eine Prozession Teonenemi, 
Gottermarsch. Dazu kommen noch manche Namen von Stadten, die als 
Kultussitze ausgezeiclmet waren, wie das unsschonfriiherbekannt gewordene 
Teotihuacan. lm Plural wurden die Gotter Teules genannt und ebcn so, 
wie uns Bernal Diaz so oft erzahlt, die Gefahrten des Cortes welche das ge- 
meine Volk als Gotter bezeichnen wollte.' Id., p. 472. 


was Tezcatlipoca, that is to say. Shining Mirror; lie 
was the god of providence, the soul of the world, 
and the creator of heaven and earth. Teotl was 
not represented by any image, and was probably not 
worshiped with offerings nor in any special temples; 
Tezcatlipoca was, however, so represented, and that as 
a youth, because time could have no power over his 
beauty and his splendor. He rewarded the righteous, 
and punished the ungodly 'with sickness and misfortune. 
He created the world, and mankind, and the sun, and 
the water, and he was himself in a certain degree the 
overseer thereof." 11 

The Abbe Brasseur believes in the knowledge by the 
Mexicans and certain neighboring or related nations, of 
a Supreme God; but he thinks also that the names of 
great priests and legislators have often been used for or 
confounded with the one Name above every name. He 
says: "In the traditions that have reached us the 
name of the legislator is often confused with that 
of the divinity; and behind the symbolic veil that covers 
primitive history, he who civilized and brought to light 
in the Americans a new life, is designedly identified with 
the Father of the universal creation. The writers who 
treat of the history of the ancient American nations avow 
that, at the time of the landing of the Spaniards on the 
soil of the western continent, there was not one that did 
not recognize the existence of a supreme deity and arbi- 
ter of the universe. In that confusion of religious ideas, 
which is the inevitable result of ignorance and supersti- 
tion, the notion of a unique immaterial being, of an in- 
visible power, had survived the shipwreck of pure primi- 
tive creeds. Under the name Tloque-Nahuaque, the 
Mexicans adored Him who is the first cause of all things, 
who preserves and sustains all by his providence; call- 
ing him again, for the same reason, Ipalnemoaloni, He 
in whom and by whom we are and live. This god was 
the same as that Kunab-Ku, the Alone Holy, who was 
adored in Yucatan; the same again as that Ilurakan, 

11 Klemm, Cultur-Gescluclde, torn, v., pp. 114-5. 


the Toice that Cries, the Heart of Heaven, found with the 
Guatemalan nations of Central America; and the same 
lastly as that Teotl, God, whom we find named in the 
Tzendal and Mexican books. This u God of all purity," 
as he was styled in a Mexican prayer, was, however, too 
elevated for the thoughts of the vulgar. His existence 
was recognized, and sages invoked him; but he had 
neither temples nor altars, — perhaps because no one 
knew how he should be represented, — and it was 011I3- 
in the last times of the Aztec monarchy that Nezahual- 
coyotl, king of Tezcuco, dedicated to him a teocalli of nine 
terraces, without statues, under the title of the unknown 
god." 12 

Mr Gallatin says of the Mexicans: " Their mythology, 
as far as we know it, presents a great number of uncon- 
nected gods, without apparent system or unity of design. 
It exhibits no evidence of metaphysical research or ima- 
ginative powers. Viewed only as a development of the 
intellectual faculties of man, it is, in every respect, vastlj- 
inferior to the religious systems of Egypt, India, Greece, 
or Scandinavia. If imported, it must have been from 
some barbarous country, and brought directly from such 
country to Mexico, since no traces of a similar worship 
are found in the more northern parts of America." 13 

" The Aztecs," writes Prescott, ''recognized the exist- 
ence of a Supreme Creator and Lord of the Universe. 
But the idea of unity — of a being, with whom volition 
is action, who has no need of inferior ministers to 
execute his purposes — was too simple, or too vast, for 
their understandings; and they sought relief as usual, 
in a plurality of deities, who presided over the elements, 
the changes of the seasons, and the various occupations 
of man. Of these, there were thirteen principal deities, 
and more than two hundred inferior; to each of whom 
some special day, or appropriate festival, was conse- 
crated." 11 

12 Brassmr de Bourbourg, Hist, des Nat. Civ., toru. i., pp. 45-6. 

13 Gallatin, in Amer. Antiq. Soc. Transact., vol. i., p. 352. 

14 Prescott' s Conq. of Mex., vol. i., p. 57. 


According t-o Mr Squier: " The original deities of the 
Mexican pantheon are few in number. Thus when the 
Mexicans engaged in a war, in defense of the liberty or 
sovereignty of their country, they invoked the War God, 
under his aspect and name Huitzlipochtli. When sud- 
denly attacked by enemies, they called upon the same 
god, under his aspect and name of Paynalton, which im- 
plied God of Emergencies, etc. In fact, as already else- 
where observed, all the divinities of the Mexican, as of 
every other mythology, resolve themselves into the pri- 
meval God and Goddess." 10 

" The population of Central America," says the Vi- 
comte de Bussierre, " although they had preserved the 
vague notion of a superior eternal God and creator, 
known by the name Teotl, had an Olympus as numerous 
as that of the Greeks and the Romans. It would appear, — 
the most ancient, though, unfortunately, also the most 
obscure legends being followed, — that during the civilized 
period which preceded the successive invasions of the 
barbarous hordes of the north, the inhabitants of Ana- 
huac joined to the idea of a supreme being the worship 
of the sun and the moon, offering them flowers, fruits, 
and the first fruits of their fields. The most ancient 
monuments of the country, such as the pyramids of Teo- 
tihuacan, were incontestably consecrated to these lumi- 
naries. Let us now trace some of the most striking 
features of these people. Among the number of their 
gods, is found one represented under the figure of a man 
eternally young, and considered as the symbol of the 
supreme and mysterious God. Two other gods there 
were, watching over mortals from the height of a celestial 
city, and charged with the accomplishment of their 
prayers. Air, earth, fire, and water had their particu- 
lar divinities. The woman of the serpent, the prolific 
woman, she who never gave birth but to twins, was 
adored as the mother of the human race. The sun and 
the moon had their altars. Various divinities presided 
over the phenomena of nature, over the day, the night, 

15 Squier' s Serpent Symbol, p. 47. 



the mist, the thunder, the harvest, the mountains, and 
so on. Souls, the place of the dead, warriors, hunters, 
merchants, fishing, love, drunkenness, medicine, flowers, 
and many other tilings had their special gods. A multi- 
tude of heroes and of illustrious kings, whose apotheosis 
had been decreed, took their place in this vast pantheon, 
where were besides seated two hundred and sixty divin- 
ities of inferior rank, to each of whom nevertheless one 
of the days of the year was consecrated. Lastly, every 
city, every family, every individual, had its or his celes- 
tial protector, to whom worship was rendered. The 
number of the temples corresponded to that of the gods; 
these temples were found everywhere, in the cities, in 
the fields, in the woods, along the roads, and all of them 
had priests charged with their service. This complicated 
mythology was common to all the nations of Anahuac, 
even to those that the empire had been unable to sub- 
jugate and with which it was at war; but each country 
had its favorite god, such god being to it, what Huitzilo- 
pochtli, the god of war, was to the Aztecs." 16 

The Mexican religion, as summed up by Mr Brantz May- 
er, 17 "was a compound of spiritualism and gross idolatry; 
for the Aztecs believed in a Supreme Deity, whom they 
called Teotl, God ; or Ipalnemoani, He by whom we 
live; or Tloque Nahuaque, He who has all in himself; 
while their evil spirit bore the name of Tlaleatcololotl, 
the Rational Owl. These spiritual beings are sur- 
rounded by a number of lesser divinities, who were prob- 
ably the ministerial agents of Teotl. These were 
Huitzilopochtli, the god of war, and Teoyaomiqui, 
his spouse, whose duty it was to conduct the souls of 
warriors who perished in defense of their homes and 
and religion to the l house of the sun,' the Aztec heaven. 
Huitzilopotchtli, or Mextli, the god of war, was the 
special protector of the Aztecs; and devoted as they 
were to war, this deity was always invoked before battle, 

is Bu.ssierre, L'Empire Mexicain, pp. 131-3. 

17 Brantz Mayer, in Schoolcraft's Arch., vol. vi., p. 585; see also, Brantz 
Mayer's Mexico as it teas, p. 110. 


and recompensed after it by the offering of numerous 
captives taken in conflict." 

'• The religion of the Mexicans," writes Sefior Carbajal 
Espinosa, 18 plagiarizing as literally as possible from Clavi- 
gero, " was a tissue of errors and of cruel and superstitious 
rites. Similar infirmities of the human mind are in- 
separable from a religious system originating in caprice 
and fear, as we see even in the most cultured nations 
of antiquity. If the religion of the Mexicans be com- 
pared with that of the Greeks and Romans, it will be 
found that the latter is the more superstitious and ridic- 
ulous and the former the more barbarous and sangui- 
nary. These celebrated nations of ancient Europe 
multiplied excessively their gods because of the mean 
idea that they had of their power; restricting their rule 
within narrow limits, attributing to them the most atro- 
cious crimes, and solemnizing their worship with such 
execrable impurities as were so justly condemned by the 
fathers of Christianity. The gods of the Mexicans were 
less imperfect, and their worship although superstitious 
contained nothing repugnant to decency. They had 
some idea, although imperfect, of a Supreme Being, ab- 
solute, independent, believing that they owed him tri- 
bute, adoration, and fear. They had no figure whereby 
to represent him, believing him to be invisible, neither 
did they give him any other name, save the generic one, 
God, which is in the Mexican tongue teotl, resembling 
even more in sense than in pronunciation the theos of 
the Greeks; they used, however, epithets, in the highest 
degree expressive, to signify the grandeur and the power 
which they believed him endowed with, calling him 
Ipalnemoani, that is to say, He by whom we live, and 
Tloque-Xahuaque, which means, He that is all things in 
himself. But the knowledge and the worship of this 
Supreme Essence were obscured by the multitude of gods 
mvented by superstition. The people believed further- 
more in &ti evil spirit, inimical to mankind, calling 

is Carbajal Espinosa, Hist, de Mexico, torn, i., pp. 4G3-9; Clavigero, Storia 
Ant. del Jleasico, torn, ii., pp. 3-4. 



him Tlacatecololotl, or Rational Owl, and saying that 
oftentimes lie revealed himself to men, to hurt or to 
terrify them." 

Ck The Mexicans and the Tezcucans," following Sell or 
Pimentel, " recognized the existence of a Supreme Being, 
of a First Cause, and gave him that generic title Teotl, 
God. the analogy of which with the Theos of the Greeks, 
has been already noted by various authors. The idea of 
God is one of those that appear radical to our very exist- 
ence. . . .With the Mexicans and Tezcucans this idea 
was darkened by the adoration of a thousand gods, in- 
voked in all emergencies; of these s;ods there were thir- 
teen principal, the most notable being the god of prov- 
idence, that of war, and that of the wind and waters. 
The god of providence had his seat in the sky, and had 
in his care all human affairs. The c:od of the waters 
was considered as the fertilizer of earth, and his dwelling 
was in the highest of the mountains where he arranged 
the clouds. The god of war was the principal protector 
of the Mexicans, their <2;uide in their wanderings from 
the mysterious country of Aztlan, the god to whose 
favor they owed those great victories that elevated them 
from the lowly estate of lake-fishermen up to the lord- 
ship of Anahuac. The god of the wind had an aspect 
more benign .... The Mexicans also worshiped the sun 
and the moon, and even, it would appear, certain ani- 
mals considered as sacred. There figured also in the 
Aztec mythology an evil genius called the Owl-man, 19 
since in some manner the good and the bad, mixed up 
here on earth, have to be explained. So the Persians 
had their Oromasdes and Arimanes, the first the genius 
of good, and the second of evil, and so, later, Maniche- 
ism presents us with analogous explanations."' 20 

Solis. writing of Mexico and the Mexicans says: 
"There was hardly a street without its tutelary god; 
neither was there any calamity of nature without its altar, 
to which the}' had recourse for remedy. They imagined 

10 Hombre Buho. 

20 Pimentel, Mem. sdbre la Baza Indigena, pp. 11-13. 


and made their gods out of their own fear; not under- 
standing that they lessened the power of some by what 
they attributed to others .... But for all so many as were 
their gods, and so complete as was the blindness of their 
idolatry, they were not without the knowledge of a 
Superior Deity, to whom they attributed the creation of 
the heavens and the earth. Tins original of things was, 
among the Mexicans, a god without name ; they had no 
word in their language witlrwhich to express him, only 
they gave it to be understood that they knew him, pointing 
reverently towards heaven, and giving to him after their 
fashion the attribute of ineffable, with that sort of relig- 
ious uncertainty with which the Athenians venerated the 
Unknown God." 21 

The interpreter of the Codex Telleriano-Remensis calls 
the Supreme God of the Mexicans by the name Tonaca- 
teotle. 22 The interpreter says: " God, Lord, Creator, 
Governor of all, Tloque, Nauaq, Tlalticpaque, Teotlalale- 
Matlava-Tepeva, — all these epithets they bestowed on 
their god Tonacateotle, who, they said, was the god that 
created the world ; and him alone they painted with a 
crown as lord of all. They never offered sacrifices to 
tins god for they said he cared not for such things. All 
the others to whom they sacrificed were men once on a 
time, or demons." 23 

We have already seen from Ilerrera that " the Mexi- 
cans confessed to a Supreme God, Lord, and maker of 
all things, and the said God was the principal that they 
venerated, looking towards heaven, and calling him 

21 Soils, Hist, de la Conq. de Mex., torn, i., pp. 398-9, 431. 

22 Gallatin, in A)ner. Ethnol. Soc, Transact, vol. i., p. 350, identifies 
this god with Tezcatlipoca of whom he writes in the following terms: ' Tez- 
catlipoea. A true invisible god, dwells in heaven, earth, and hell; alone 
attends to the government of the world, gives and takes away wealth and 
prosperity. Called also Titlacoa (whence his star Titlacahuari) . Under the 
name of Necocyaotl, the author of wars and discords. According to Boturini, 
he is the god of providence. He seems to be the only equivalent for the 
Tonacatlecottle of the interpreters of the Codices.' 

23 Explic. del Codex Telleriano-Remensis, in Kingsborough's Mex. Antiq., 
vol. v., p. 135. I take this opportunity of cautioning the reader against 
Kingsborough's translation of the above codex, as well as against his trans- 
lation of the Spiegazione delle Tavole del Codice Mexicano: every error that could 
vitiate a translation seems to have crept into these two. 


Creator of heaven and earth." 2i In contra-distinction 
to this it may be well to consider the following extract 
from the same author: " Such was the blindness of the 
Mexicans, even to the natural light, that they did not 
think like men of good judgment that all created things 
were the work and effect of some immense and infinite 
cause, the which only the First Cause and true God is. 
. . . .And in Mexico alone (according to the common 
opinion) they had and adored two thousand gods, of whom 
the principal were Vizilipuztli and Tezcatlipucatl, who 
as supreme were set up in the height of the great temple, 
over two altars. . . .Tezcatlipucatl was the god of provi- 
dence, and Vizilipuztli the god of war." 25 

Speaking of Mexican temples 26 and gods, Oviedo say** 
"But Montezuma had the chief [temple], together witn 
three other prayer-houses, in which he sacrificed in 
honor of four gods, or idols, that he had ; of these they 
had one for god of war, as the Gentiles had Mars; to 
another they gave honor and sacrifice as god of the 
waters, even as the ancients gave to Neptune ; another they 
adored for god of the wind, as the lost heathen adored 
iEolus; and another still they revered as their sovereign 
god, and this was the sun. . . .They had further other 
gods ; making one of them god of the maize-fields, attri- 
buting to him the power of guarding and multiplying 
the same, as the fable- writing poets and ancients of an- 
tiquity did to Ceres. They had gods for everything, 
giving attributes to each according to their surmises, in- 
vesting them with that godhead which they had not, and 
with which it was not right to invest any save only the 
true God." 27 

Speaking in general terms of probably a large part of 

24 See this vol. p. 57, note 13. On pages 55 and 56, and in the note per- 
taining thereto, will also be found many references bearing on the matter 
under present discussion. 

25 Herrera, Hist. Gen., dec. ii., lib. vii., cap. xviii., p. 253. 

26 Qiies, Oviedo calls them, (spelled cues by most writers) the following ex- 
planation being given in glossary of Voces Americanos Empleadas por Oviedo, 
appended to the fourth volume of the Hist. Gen.: ' Qii: templo, casa de oraci- 
on. Esla voz era muy general en casi toda America, y muy priiicipalmente 
en las eomarcas de Yucatan y Mechuacan. ' 

27 Oviedo, Hist. Gen., torn, iii., p. 503. 


New Spain, Torquemada, says: " These idolaters did 
not deny that they had a god called Ypalnemoaloni, that 
is to say, Lord hy whom we live, and his nature is that 
his existence is in himself 28 : the which is most proper 
to God, who is in his essence life. But that in which 
these people erred was in distributing this divinity and 
attributing it to many gods ; yet, in reality, and verily, 
they recognized a Supreme God, to whom all the others 
were inferior. But for the 'greatness of their sins, they 
lacked faith and ran into this error like the other nations 
that have done so." 

Acosta, as has been already noticed by Professor J. 
G. M tiller, either never heard of or disbelieved in the 
existence of the name Teotl and of the ideas connected 
therewith by so many historians. 29 The said Acosta 
says: " If wee shall seeke into the Indian tongue for a 
word to answer to this name of God, as in Latin, Deus; 
in Greeke, Theos ; in Hebrew, El ; in Arabike, Alia ; but 
wee shall not finde any in the Cuscan or Mexicaine 
tongues. So as such as preach, or write to the Indians, 
vse our Spanish name Dios, fitting it to the accent or 
pronunciation of the Indian tongues, the which differ 
much, whereby appeares the small knowledge they had 
of God, seeing they cannot so much as name him, if 
it be not by our very name: yet in trueth they had 
some little knowledge .... The Mexicaines almost in the 
same manner [as the Peruvians] after the supreame God, 
worshiped the Sunne: And therefore they called Her- 
nando Cortez, Sonne of the Sunne, for his care and 
courage to compasse the earth. But they made their 

28 ' Ypalnemoaloni, que quiere decir, Seiior por quien se vive, y ai ser en 
el de Naturale<ja.' Torquemada, Monarq. Ind., torn, iii., p. 30. 

29 See this vol. p. 183. — Not, be it remarked that Acosta denies the knowl- 
edge by the Mexicans of a Supreme God; he only denies the existence of 
any name by which the said deity was generally known. This is clear from 
the following extract from the Hist. Nat. ind., p. 333: 'First, although the 
darkenessc of infidelitie holdeth these nations in blindenesse, yet in many 
thinges the light of truth and reason works somewhat in them. And they 
commonly acknowledge a supreame Lorde and Author of all things, which 
they of Peru called Yiraeoeha . . . Him they did worship, as the chiefest of 
all, whom they did honor in beholding the heaven. The like wee see among 
them of Mexico." e 

Vol. III. 13 


greatest adoration to an Idol called Vitzilipuztli, the 
which in all this region they called the most puissant 
and Lord of all things: for this cause the Mexicaines 
huilt him a Temple, the greatest, the fairest, the highest, 
and the most sumptuous of all others .... But heere 
the Mexicaines Idolatrie hath bin more pernicious and 
hurtfull than that of the Inguas, as wee shall see plainer 
heereafter, for that the greatest part of their adoration 
and idolatrie, was imployed to Idols, and not to naturall 
things, although they did attribute naturall effects to 
these Idolls, as raine, multiplication of cattell, warre, and 
generation, even as the Greekes and Latins have forged 
Idolls of Phoebus, Mercurie, Jupiter, Minerva, and of 
Mars. To conclude, who so shall neerely looke into it, 
shall finde this manner which the Divell hath vsed to 
deceive the Indians, to be the same wherewith hee hath 
deceived the Greekes and Romans, and other ancient 
Gentiles, giving them to vnderstand that these notable 
creatures, the Sunne, Moone, Starres, and Elements, had 
power and authoritie to doe good or harme to men." 30 

Mendieta says: "It is to be noted for a general rule 
that, though these people, in all the continent of these 
Indias, from the farthest parts of New Spain to the parts 
of Florida, and farther still to the kingdoms of Peru, 
had, as has been said, an infinity of idols that they 
reverenced as gocls, nevertheless, above all, they still 
held the sun as chiefest and most powerful. And they 
dedicated to the sun the greatest, richest, and most 
sumptuous of their temples. This should be the power 
the Mexicans called Ipalnemohuani, that is to say, 'by 
whom all live,' and Moyucuyatzin ayac oquiyocux ayac 
ocpiipic, that is to say, ' he that no one created or formed, 
but who, on the contrary, made all things by his ow r n 
power and will.' .... So many are the fictions and fa- 
bles that the Indians invented about their gods, and so 
differently are these related in the different towns, that 
neither can they agree among themselves in recounting 

30 Acosta, Hist. Nat. Ind., pp. 334, 337-8. 


them, nor shall there he found anyone who shall under- 
stand them. In the principal provinces of this New 
Spain, they had, — after the sun, which was the common 
god of them all, — each province, its particular and prin- 
cipal god, to which god above all others they offered 
their sacrifices ; as the Mexicans to Uzilopuchtli — a name 
that the Spaniards not being able to pronounce called 
Ocholobos, 'eight wolves', or Uchilobos; as the Tezucans 
to Tezcatlipuca ; as the Tlaxcalans to Camaxtli, and 
and as the Cholulans to Quetzalcoatl ; doubtless all 
these were famous men that performed some notable 
feats, or invented some new thing, to the honor and 
benefit of the state; or perhaps again these gave the 
people laws and a rule of life, or taught them trades, or 
to offer up sacrifices, or some other thing that appeared 
good and wortlry to be rewarded with grateful acknowl- 
edgements The demon, the old enemy, did not 

content himself with the service that these people did 
him in the adoration of almost every visible creature, 
in making idols of them, both carven and painted, but 
he also kept them blinded with a thousand fashions of 
witchcrafts, parodies of sacraments, and superstitions.' 31 
"It is well to remark," writes Camargo, " that although 
the Indians had a divinity for each thing, they were 
aware of the existence of a Supreme God that they named 
Tloque-Xahuaque, or He who contains all, regarding the 
same as superior to all the other gods." This Tlascaltec 
author has also preserved us a native prayer couched in 
the following terms: " 0, all-powerful gods, that inhabit 
the heavens, even as far as the ninth, where abides your 
master and ours, the great Tloque-Nahuaque (this name 
means, He that accompanies the other gods 32 ), — you that 

3i Mendkta, Hist. Ecles., pp. 88, 91, 107. 

32 Tin! interpretation of the title Tloque Nahuaque is not only irreconci- 
lable with another given by the same author a few lines above in our t' :;t. 
but it is also at utter variance with those of all other authors with which I 
am acquainted. It may not be amiss here to turn to the best authority <ic- 

sible in matters of Mexican idiom: Molina. Vocabulario, describes the 
title to mean, ' He upon whom depends the existence of all things, preserv- 
ing and sustaining them,' — a word used also to mean God, or Lord. ' Tlo- 
que muaque, cabe cpuien esta el ser de todas las cosas, conseruandolas y sus- 
tenkuidolas : y dizese de nro sehor dios.' 


have all power over men forsake us not in danger. We 
invoke you, as well also as the sun Nauholin, and the 
moon, spouse of that brilliant luminary, the stars of 
heaven also, and the wind of the night and of the day." 33 
According to the somewhat vague and incomplete ac- 
count of Fray Toribio de Benavente, or Motolinia, — the 
latter his adopted name and that by which he is best 
known. — another of the original and early authorities in 
matter concerning the gentile Mexicans: " Tezcatlipoca 
was the god or demon that they held for greatest and 
to whom most dignity was attributed . . . They had 
idols of stone, and of wood, and of baked clay; they also 
made them of dough and of seeds kneaded into the 
dough . . . Some of them were shaped like men,. . . some 
were like women ; . . . some were like wild beasts, as lions, 
tigers, dogs, deer, and such other animals as frequented 
1 ■ mountains and plains: . . . some like snakes of many 
fashions, large and coiling ... Of the owl and other 
ht-birds, and of others as the kite, and of every large 
bird, or beautiful, or fierce, or preciously feathered, — 
v had an idol. But the principal of all was the sun. 
Likewise had they idols of the moon and stars, and of 
the great fishes, and of the water-lizards, and of toads and 
i\\yj:s. and of other fishes ; and these they said were the 
Is of the fishes. . .They had for gods fire, water, and 
earth; and of all these they had painted figures ... Of 
many other things they had figures and idols, carved or 
painted, even of butterflies, fleas, and locusts." 34 

Xezahualcoyotl. king of Tezcuco, was he who — accord- 
ing to the no doubt somewhat partial account of his de- 
ad ant Ixtlilxochitl — pushed the farthest into overt 
speech and act his contempt of the vulgar idolatry and 
his recognition of a high, holy, and to a great extent 
unknowable supreme power. This thoughtful monarch 
"found for false all the gods adored by the people of 
this land, saying that they were statues and demons 

amargo, Hist, de Tlax., in Nouvelles Annales des Voy., 1813, torn, xcviii., 
p. 191, torn. xcix., p. 168. 

34 Motolinia, Hid. Indios, in Icazbalceia, Col, torn, i., pp.4, 33-21. 


lostile to the human race ; for he was very learned in 
noral things, and he went to and fro more than any 
>ther, seeking if haply he might find light to affirm the 
riie God and creator of all things, as has been seen in 
he discourse of his history, and as bear witness the songs 
hat he composed on this theme. He said that there 
vas only One, that this One was the maker of heaven 
md earth, that he sustained all- he had made and created, 
tnd that he was where was no second, above the nine 
leavens; that no eve had ever seen this One, in a human 
hape nor in any shape whatever; that the souls of the 
drtuous went to him after death, while the souls of the 
>ad went to another place, some most infamous spot of 
larth, filled with horrible hardships and sufferings. 
\ r ever — though there were many gods representing many 
dols — did the king neglect an opportunity of saying 
vlien divinity was discussed, l yntloque in nauhaque y 
)alne moalani,' which sentence sums up his convictions 
is above expressed. Nevertheless he recognized the sun 
is his father and the earth as his mother." 35 

Now it is in the face of much that has been said deny- 
ng or doubting Ixtlilxochitl's account of the creed of 
S T ezahualcoyotl that I have selected the passage above 
ranslated, from among other passages touching the same 
ubject in the Illstoria Chicldmeca and in the Relaciones. 
'. have selected it not because it is the most clearly 
vorded, or the most eloquent, or the most complete ; but 

33 Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chichimeca, in Kinr/sborough's Mex. Antiq., vol. ix., p. 
161. ' Tuvo por falsos ;i todos los dioses que adoraban lus de esta tierra, 
Liciendo que eran estatuas d demonios enemigoa del genero humano; por 
[ue fue muy sabio en las cosas morales, y el que mas vacilo buscando de 
tonde tomar lumbre para certificarse del verdadero I)ios y criador de todas 
/is cosas, como so lia visto en el discurso de su historia, y dan testimonio 
us cantos que conipuso en razon de esto como es el decir que habia uno 
olo, y que este era el hacedor del cielo y da la tierra, y sustentaba todo lo 
lecho y criado por el, y que estaba donde no tenia segundo, sobre los nueve 
delos, que el alcanzaba, que jamas se habia visto en forma humana, ni otra 
igura, que con el iban a parar las almas de los virtuosos despues demuertos, 
f (pie las de los malos iban a otro lugar, que era el mas fnfimo de la tierra, 
lo trabajos y penas horribles. Nunca jamas (aunque habia muchos idolos 
pie representaban muchos dioses) cuando se ofrecia tratar de deidad, ni en 
general ni en particular, sino que decia* yntloque in nauhaque y palne moa- 
ani, que significa lo que esta atras declarado Solo decia que reconocia al 
50I por padre; y a, la tierra por madre.' See also the Relaciones of the same 
luthor, in the same volume, p. 454. 


solely on account of the sentence with which it concludes: 
Nezahualcoyotl ki recognized the sun as his father 
and the earth as his mother." These few T words occurr- 
ing at the end of a eulogy of the great Tezcucan by a 
confessed admirer, these few words that have passed un- 
noticed amid the din and hubbub raised over the lofty 
creed to which they form the last article, these few words 
so insignificant apparently and yet so significant in their 
connection. — should go far to prove the faithfulness of 
of Ixtlilxochitrs record, and the greater or less complete- 
ness of his portrait of his great ancestor. Were Ixtlilxo- 
chitl dishonest, would he ever have allowed such a pagan 
chord as this to come jangling into the otherwise perfect 
music of his description of a perfect sage and Christian, 
who believed in a God alone and all-sufficient, who be- 
lieved in a creator of all things without any help at all, 
much less the help of his dead material creatures the sun 
and the earth? Let us admit the honesty of Ixtlilxo- 
chitl, and admit with him a knowledge of that Unknown 
God, whom, as did the Athenians, Xezahualcoyotl igno- 
rantly worshiped ; but let us not be blinded by a glitter 
of words— which we may be sure lose nothing in the 
repetition — as to the significance of that 'ignorantly;* 
let us never lose sight across the shadow of that obscure 
Athenian altar to the Unknown God, of the mighty 
columns of the Acropolis and the crest of the Athena 
Promachos. Xezahualcoyotl seems a fair tj-pe of a 
thoughtful, somewhat sceptical Mexican of that better- 
instructed class which is ever and evervwhere the horror 
of hypocrites and fanatics, of that class never without 
its witnesses in all countries and at all times, of that 
class two steps above the ignorant laity, and one step 
above the learned priesthood, yet far still from that simple 
and perfect truth which shall one day be patent enough 
to all. 

Turning from the discussion of a point so obscure and 
intangible as the monotheism of Xezahualcojotl and the 
s 'hool of which he was the type, let us review the very 
palpable and indubitable polytheism of the Mexicans. 


It seems radically to differ little from other polytheisms 
better known, such as those of Greece, Rome, and Scan- 
dinavia; it seems to have been a jumble of personified 
powers, causes, and qualities, developed in the ordinary 
way from the mythical corruption of that florid hyper- 
bolical style of speech natural to all peoples in days 
before the exact definition of words was either possi- 
ble or necessary; just such a jumble as the Aryan 
polytheisms were in the days of the Euhemerists, and for 
too long after unfortunately; such a jumble as Aryan 
mythology was till the brothers Grimm led the van of 
the ripest talent and scholarship of the nineteenth cen- 
tury into the paths of l word-shunting,' which led again 
into god or hero shunting, if the term may be invented. 
Unfortunately the philologic and mythologic material for 
such an exhaustive synthesis of the origin and relations 
of the American creeds as Mr Cox, for example, has 
given to the world on the Aryan legends, in his Mythology 
of the Aryan Nations, is yet far from complete; which fact 
indeed makes the raison d'etre of works like the present. 
There is nothing for me at present but to gather, sift, and 
arrange, with such sifting and arrangement as may be pos- 
sible, all accessible materials relating to the subject in hand ; 
that done let more skilled workmen find and give them 
their place in the wall of science. For they have a 
place there, whether or no it be found to-daj^ or to- 
morrow ; a breach is there that shall be empty until they 
fit and fill it. 

Tezcatlipoca seems to have been considered on the 
whole, and the patron-gods of different cities aside, as the 
most important of the Mexican gods. \Ye have seen 
him identified in several of the preceding quotations 
with a supreme invisible god, and I now proceed, illus- 
trating this phase of his character, to translate as closely 
as possible the various prayers given by Sahagun as ad- 
dressed to this great deity under his various names, 
Titlacoan, Yautl, Telpuchtli, Tlamatzincatl, Moiocoiatzin, 
Iaotzin, Xecociautl, Xecaoalpilli, and others: — 


0, thou almighty God, that givest life to men, and 
art called Titlacaoan, grant me in thy mercy everything 
needful to eat and to drink, and to enjoy of thy soft and 
delicate things; for in grievous toil and straitness I live 
in the world. Have mercy on me, so poor I am and 
naked, I that labor in thy service, and for thy service 
sweep, and clean, and put light in this poor house, where 
I await thine orders ; otherwise let me die soon and end 
this toilful and miserable life, so that my body may find 
rest and a breathing-time. 

h\ illness the people prayed to this deity as follows: 

God, whose name is Titlacaoan, be merciful and send 
away this sickness which is killing me, and I will reform 
my life. Let me be once healed of this infirmity and I 
swear to serve thee and to earn the right to live; should 

1 by hard toil gain something, I will not eat it nor 
employ it in anything save only to thine honor; I will 
give a feast and a banquet of dancing in this poor house. 

But the sick man that could not recover, and that felt 
it so. used to grow desperate and blaspheme saying: 
Titlacaoan, since thou mockest me, why dost thou not 
kill me? 36 

Then following is a prayer to Tezcatlipoca, used by 
the priest in time of pestilence: mighty Lord, under 
whose wing we find defense and shelter, thou art invis- 
ible and impalpable even as night and the air. How 
can I that am so mean and worthless dare to appear be- 
fore thy majesty? Stuttering and with rude lips I speak; 
ungainly is the manner of my speech as one leaping 
among furrows, as one advancing unevenly ; for all this 
I fear to raise thine anger, and to provoke instead of ap- 
peasing thee; nevertheless thou wilt do unto me as may 
please thee. Lord, that hast held it good to forsake 
us in these days, according to the counsel thou hast as 
well in heaven as in hades, — alas for us, in that thine 
anger and indignation has descended in these da}~s 
upon us; alas, in that the many and grievous afflictions 
of thy wrath have overgone and swallowed us up, 

3G Sahagun, Hid. Gen., torn, i., lib. iii., pp. 241-2. 


coming down even as stones, spears, and arrows upon the 
wretches that inhabit the earth, — this is the sore pesti- 
lence with which we are afflicted and almost destroyed. 
Alas, valiant and all-powerful Lord, the common peo- 
ple are almost made an end of and destroyed ; a great 
destruction and ruin the pestilence already makes in 
this nation; and, what is most pitiful of all, the little 
children that are innocent and understand nothing, 
only to play with pebbles and to heap up little mounds 
of earth, they too die, broken and dashed to pieces as 
against stones and a wall — a thing very pitiful and grievous 
to be seen, for there remain of them not even those in 
the cradles, nor those that could not walk nor speak. 
Ah, Lord, how all things become confounded; of young 
and old and of men and women there remains neither 
branch nor root; tiry nation and thy people and thy 
wealth are leveled clown and destroyed. our Lord, 
protector of all, most valiant and most kind, what is this? 
Thine anger and thine indignation, does it glory or delight 
in hurling the stone and arrow and spear? The fire of the 
pestilence, made exceeding hot, is upon thy nation, as a fire 
in a hut, burning and smoking, leaving nothing upright or 
sound. The grinders of thy teeth are employed, and thy 
bitter whips upon the miserable of thy people, who have 
become lean and of little substance, even as a hollow green 
cane. Yea, what doest thou now, Lord, most strong, 
compassionate, invisible, and impalpable, whose will 
all things obey, upon whose disposal depends the rule of 
the world, to whom all is subject, — what in thy divine 
breast hast thou decreed? Peradventure hast thou alto- 
gether forsaken thy nation and thy people? Hast thou 
verily determined that it utterly perish, and that there 
be no more memory of it in the world, that the peopled 
place become a wooded hill and a wilderness of stones? 
Peradventure wilt thou permit that the temples, and 
the places of prayer, and the altars, built for thy service, 
be razed and destroyed and no memory of them be left ? 
Is it indeed possible that thy wrath and punishment, 
and vexed indignation are altogether implacable and 


will go on to the end to our destruction ? Is it already 
fixed in thy divine counsel that there is to he no mercy 
nor pit}- for us, until the arrows of thy fury are spent to 
our utter perdition and destruction? Is it possible that 
this lash and chastisement is not given for our cor- 
rection and amendment, but only for our total destruc- 
tion and obliteration; that the sun shall nevermore 
shine upon us, but that w r e must remain in perpetual 
darkness and silence; that nevermore thou wilt look 
upon us with eyes of mercy, neither little nor much ? 
"Wilt thou after this fashion destroy the wretched sick 
that cannot find rest nor turn from side to side, 
whose mouth and teeth are filled with earth and 
scurf? It is a sore thing to tell how we are all in dark- 
ness, having none understanding nor sense to watch for 
or aid one another. We are all as drunken and without 
understanding, without hope of any aid; already the 
little children perish of hunger, for there is none to give 
them food, nor drink, nor consolation, nor caress, — none to 
give the breast to them that suck; for their fathers and 
and mothers have died and left them orphans, suffer- 
ing for the sins of their fathers. our Lord, all- 
powerful, full of mercy, our refuge, though indeed 
thine anger and indignation, thine arrows and stones, have 
sorely hurt this poor people, let it be as a father or a 
mother that rebukes children, pulling their ears, pinch- 
ing their arms, whipping them with nettles, pouring 
chill water upon them ; all being done that they may 
amend their puerility and childishness. Thy chastise- 
ment and indignation have lorded and prevailed over 
these thy servants, over this poor people, even as rain 
falling upon the trees and the green canes, being touched 
of the wind, drops also upon those that are below. most 
compassionate Lord, thou knowest that the common folk 
are as children, that being whipped they cry and sob and 
repent of what they have done. Perad venture, already 
these poor people by reason of thy chastisement weep, sigh, 
blame, and murmur against themselves ; in thy presence 
they blame and bear witness against their bad beeds and 


punish themselves therefor. Our Lord most compassio- 
nate, pitiful, noble, and precious, let a time be given the 
people to repent; let the past chastisement suffice, let it 
end here, to begin again if the reform endure not. Par- 
don and overlook the sins of the people; cause thine 
anger and thy resentment to cease; repress it again 
within thy breast that it destroy no farther; let it rest 
there; let it cease, for. of a surety none can avoid 
death nor escape to any place. We owe tribute to death ; 
and all that live in the world are the vassals thereof; 
this tribute shall every man pay with his life. None 
shall avoid from following death, for it is thy messenger 
what hour soever it may be sent, hungering and thirst- 
ing always to devour all that are in the world and so 
powerful that none shall escape : then indeed shall every 
man be punished according to his deeds. most pitiful 
Lord, at least take pity and have meroy upon the child- 
ren that are in the cradles, upon those that cannot walk. 
Have mercy also, Lord, upon the poor and very mise- 
rable, who have nothing to eat, nor to cover themselves 
withal, nor a place to sleep, who do not know what thing 
a happy day is, whose days pass altogether in pain, 
affliction, and sadness. Than this, were it not better, 
Lord, if thou should forget to have mercy upon the 
soldiers and upon the men of war, whom thou wilt have 
need of sometime; behold it is better to die in war and 
go to serve food and drink in the house of the sun, than 
to die in this pestilence and descend to hades. most 
strong Lord, protector of all, lord of the earth, governor 
of the world, and universal master, let the sport and satis- 
faction thou hast already taken in this past punishment 
suffice ; make an end of this smoke and fog of thy resent- 
ment; quench also the burning and destroying fire of 
thine anger: let serenity come and clearness; let the 
small birds of thy people begin to sing and to approach 
the sun; give them quiet weather so that they may 
cause their voices to reach thy highness and thou may est 
know them. our Lord, most strong, most compassion- 
ate, and most noble, this little have 1 said before thee, 


and I have nothing more to say, only to prostrate and 
throw myself at thy feet, seeking pardon for the faults 
of this my prayer; certainly I would not remain in thy 
displeasure, and I have no other thing to say. 

The following is a prayer to the same deity, under his 
names Tezcatlipuca and Yoalliehecatl, for succor against 
poverty: our Lord, protector most strong and com- 
passionate, invisible, and impalpable, thou art the giver 
of life ; lord of all, and lord of battles, I present myself 
here before thee to say some few words concerning the 
need of the poor people, the people of none estate nor 
intelligence. When they lie down at night they have 
nothing, nor when they rise up in the morning; the 
darkness and the light pass alike in great poverty. 
Know, Lord, that thy subjects and servants, suffer a 
sore poverty that cannot be told of more than that it is 
a sore poverty and desolateness. The men have no gar- 
ments nor the women to cover themselves with, but only 
certain rags rent in every part that allow the air and the 
cold to pass everywhere. With great toil and weariness 
they scrape together enough for each day, going by 
mountain and wilderness seeking their food ; so faint and 
enfeebled are they that their bowels cleave to the ribs, 
and all their body reechoes with hollowness; and they 
walk as people affrighted, the face and the body in like- 
ness of death. If they be merchants, they now sell 
only cakes of salt and broken pepper; the people that 
have something despise their wares, so that they go out 
to sell from door to door and from house to house ; and 
when they sell nothing they sit down sadly by some fence, 
or wall, or in some corner, licking their lips and gnaw- 
ing the nails of their hands for the hunger that is in 
them ; they look on the one side and on the other at the 
mouths of those that pass by, hoping peradventure that 
one may speak some word to them. compassionate 
God, the bed on which they lie down is not a thing to 
rest upon, but to endure torment in; they draw a rag 
over them at night and so sleep; there they throw down 
their bodies and the bodies of children that thou hast 


given them. For the misery they grow up in, for the 
filth 37 of their food, for the lack of covering, their faces 
are yellow and all their bodies of the color of earth. 
They tremble with cold, and for leanness they stagger in 
walking. They go weeping, and sighing, and full of 
sadness, and all misfortunes are joined to them; though 
they stay by a fire they find little heat. our Lord , 
most clement, invisible, and impalpable, I supplicate 
thee to see good to have pity upon them as they move in 
thy presence wailing and clamoring and seeking mercy 
with anguish of heart. our Lord, in whose power it 
is to give all content, consolation, sweetness, softness, 
prosperity and riches, for thou alone art lord of all good, 
— have mercy upon them for they are thy servants. I 
supplicate thee, Lord, that thou prove them a little 
with tenderness, indulgence, sweetness, and softness, 
which indeed they sorely lack and require. I suppli- 
cate thee that thou will lift up their heads with thy favor 
and aid, that thou will see good that they enjoy some 
days of prosperity and tranquillity, so they may sleep and 
know repose, having prosperous and peaceable days of 
life. Should they still refuse to serve thee, thou after- 
wards canst take away what thou hast given ; they having 
enjoyed it but a few days, as those that enjoy a fragrant 
and beautiful flower and find it wither presently. Should 
this nation, for whom I pray and entreat thee to do them 
good, not understand what thou hast given, thou canst 
take away the good and pour out cursing; so that all 
evil may come upon them, and they become poor, in 
need, maimed, lame, blind, and deaf: then indeed they 
shall waken and know the good that they had and have 
not, and they shall call upon thee and lean towards thee; 
but thou wilt not listen, for in the day of abundance 
they would not understand thy goodness towards, them. 
In conclusion, I supplicate thee, most kind and benif- 
icent Lord, that thou will see good to give this people 
to taste of the goods and riches that thou art wont to 
give, and that proceed from thee, things sweet and soft 

37 Por la freza de la comicla: Sahagun, Hist. Gen., torn, ii., lib, vi., p. 39. 


and bringing content mid joy, although it be but for a little 
while, and as a dream that passes. For it is certain that 
for a long time the people go sadly before thee, weeping 
and thoughtful, because of the anguish, hardship, and 
anxiety that fill their bodies and hearts, taking away all 
ease and rest. Verily, it is not doubtful that to this poor 
nation, needy and shelterless, happens all I have said. 
If thou answerest my petition it will be only of thy 
liberality and magnificence, for no one is worthy to re- 
ceive thy bounty for any merit of his, but only through 
i\iy grace. Search below the dung-hills and in the 
mountains for thy servants, friends, and acquaintance, 
and raise them to riches and dignities. our Lord, 
most clement, let thy will be done as it is ordained in 
thy heart, and we shall have nothing to say. I, a rude 
man and common, would not by importunity and pro- 
lixity disgust and annoy thee, detailing my sickness, 
destruction, and punishment. Whom do I speak to ? 
Where am I ? Lo I speak with thee, King ; well do I 
know that I stand in an eminent place, and that I talk 
with one of great majesty, before whose presence 
flows a river through a chasm, a gulf sheer down of 
awful depth ; this also is a slippery place, whence many 
precipitate themselves, for there shall not be found one 
without error before thy majesty. I myself, a man of 
little understanding and lacking speech, dare to address 
my words to thee; I put myself in peril of falling into the 
. rge and cavern of this river. I, Lord, have come to 
take with my hands blindness to mine eyes, rotten- 
ness and shrivelling to my members, poverty and 
affliction to my body; for my meanness and rudeness 
this it is that I merit to receive. Live and rule for 
ever in all quietness and tranquillity, thou that art our 
lord, our shelter, our protector, most compassionate, most 
pitiful, invisible, impalpable. 

This following is a petition in time of war to the same 
principal god, under his name of Tezcatlipoca Yautlnecoci- 
autlmonenequi, praying favor against the enemy : our 
Lord, most compassionate, protector, defender, invisible, 


impalpable, by whose will and wisdom we are directed 
and governed, beneath whose rule we live, — 0, Lord 
of battles, it is a thing very certain and settled that war 
begins to be arranged and prepared for. The god of 
the earth opens his mouth, thirsty to drink the blood 
of them that shall die in this strife. It seems that they 
wish to be merry, the sun and the god of the earth 
called Tlaltecutli; they wish to give to eat and drink to 
the gods of heaven and hades, making them a banquet 
with the blood and flesh of the men that have to die in 
this war. Already do they look, the gods of heaven 
and hades, to see who they are that have to con- 
quer, and who to be conquered ; who they are that 
have to slay, and who to be slain; whose blood 
it is that has to be drunken, and whose flesh it is 
that has to be eaten; — which things the noble lathers 
aid mothers whose sons have to die, are ignorant of. 
Even so are ignorant all their kith and kin, and the 
nurses that gave them suck. — ignorant also are the fa- 
thers that toiled for them, seeking things needful for 
their food and drink and raiment until they reached the 
age they now have. Certainly they could not foretell 
how those sons should end whom the}' reared so anx- 
iously, or that they should be one day left captives or 
dead upon the field. See good, our Lord, that the 
nobles who die in the shock of war be peacefully and 
agreeably received, and with bow T els of love, by the sun 
and the earth that are father and mother of all. For 
verily thou dost not deceive thyself in what thou doest, 38 
to wit, in wishing them to die in war; for certainly 
for this didst thou send them into the world, so 
that with their flesh and their blood they might be 
for meat and drink to the sun and the earth. Be not 
wroth, Lord, anew against those of the profession of 
war, for in the same place where they will die have died 

3 ^ ' Porque a la verdad no os engaiiais con lo que haceis:' see Sahajun, in 
Kingsborouyh's Mex. Antiq., vol. v., p. 356, as the substitution of 'enganeis ' 
for 'engaiiais' destroys the sense of the passage in Bustaniante's ed. of the 
same, Hist. Gen., torn, ii., lib. vi.,p. 43. 


many generous 39 and noble lords and captains, and 
valiant men. The nobility and generosity of the nobles 
and the greatheartedness of the warriors is made appar- 
ent, and thou makest manifest, Lord, how estimable 
and precious is each one, so that as such he may be held 
and honored, even as a stone of price or a rich feather. 
Lord, most clement, lord of battles, emperor of all, 
whose name is Tezcatlipoca, invisible and impalpable, 
we supplicate thee that he or they that thou wilt per- 
mit to die in this war may be received into the house of 
the sun in heaven, with love and honor, and ma}' be 
placed and lodged between the brave and famous war- 
riors already dead in war, to wit, the lords Quitzicqua- 
quatzin, Maceuhcatzin, Tlacahuepantzin, Ixtlilcuechavac, 
Ihuitltemuc, Chavacuetzin, and all the other valiant and 
renowned men that died in former times, — who are re- 
joicing with and praising our lord the sun, who are glad 
and eternally rich through him, and shall be for ever; 
they go about sucking the sweetness of all flowers delec- 
table and pleasant to the taste. This is a great dignity 
lor the stout and valiant ones that died in war; for this 
they are drunken with delight, keeping no account of 
night, nor day, nor years, nor times ; their joy and their 
wealth is without end; the nectarous flowers they sip 
never Hide, and for the desire thereof men of high de- 
scent strengthen themselves to die. In conclusion, I 
entreat thee, Lord, that art our lord most clement, 
our emperor most invincible, to see good that those that 
die in this war be received with bowels of pit}' and love 
by our father the sun, and our mother the earth ; for 
thou only livest and rulest and art our most compassion- 
ate lord. Nor do I supplicate alone for the illustrious and 
noble, but also for the other soldiers, who are troubled and 
tormented in heart, who clamor, calling upon thee, 
holding their lives as nothing, and who llins? themselves 
without fear upon the enemy, seeking death. Grant 

39 By an error and a solecism of Bnstamente's ed. the words ' gentcs 
rojos are substituted for the adjective ' generosos :' see, as in the preced- 
ing note, Sahagun,in Kingsborough's Mcx. Antiq., vol. v., p. 357, and Sahagun, 
Hist. Gen., torn, ii., lib. vi., p. 43. 


them at least some small part of their desire, some rest 
and repose in this life; or if here, in this world, they are 
not destined to prosperity, appoint them for servants and 
officers of the sun, to give food and drink to those in 
hades and to those in heaven. As for those whose charge 
it is to rule the state and to be tlacateccatl or tlacochcal- 
atl, i0 make them to be fathers and mothers to the men 
of war that wander by field and mountain, by height 
and ravine, — in their hand is the sentence of death for 
enemies and criminals, as also the distribution of digni- 
ties, the offices and the arms of war, the badges, the 
granting privileges to those that wear visors and tassels 41 
on the head, and ear-rings, pendants, and bracelets, and 
have vellow skins tied to their ankles, — with them is the 
privilege of appointing the fashion of the raiment that 
every one shall wear. It is to these also to give per- 
mission to certain to use and wear precious stones, as 
chalchivetes, turquoises, and rich feathers in the dances, 
and to wear necklaces and jewels of gold: all of which 
things are delicate and precious gifts proceeding from 
thy riches, and which thou givest to those that perform 
feats and valiant deeds in war. I entreat thee also, 
Lord, to make grace of thy largess to the common 
soldiers, give them some shelter and good lodging in this 
world, make them stout and brave, and take away all 
cowardice from their heart, so that not only shall they 
meet death with cheerfulness, but even desire it as a 
sweet thing, as flowers and dainty food, nor dread at all 
the hoots and shouts of their enemies: this do to them 
as to thy friend. Forasmuch as thou art lord of battles, 
on whose will depends the victory, aiding whom thou 
wilt, needing not that any counsel thee, — I entreat thee, 
Lord, to make mad and drunken our enemies so that 
without hurt to us they may cast themselves into our 
hands, into the hands of our men of war enduring 

40 ' Es decir Comamlantps 6 Capitanes ^enerales de ejt'rcito:' Bustamente, in 
Sahagun, Hist. Gen., torn, ii., lib. vi., p. 41. 

4i 'Borlas,' see Sahagun, in Kingsborough's Mex. Antiq., vol. v., p. 358, 
given 'hollas ' in Bustumunte's Sahagun, Hint. (Jen., torn, ii., lib. vi., p. 45. 

Vol. III. U 


so much hardship and poverty. our Lord, since 
thou art God, all-powerful, all-knowing, disposer of all 
things, able to make this land rich, prosperous, praised, 
honored, famed in the art and feats of war, able to make 
the warriors now in the field to live and be prosperous, 
if, in the days at hand, thou see good that they die in 
war, let it be to go to the house of the sun. among all 
the heroes that are there and that died upon the battle- 

The following prayer is one addressed to the principal 
deity, under his name Tezcatlipoca Teiocoiani Tehima- 
tini, asking favor for a newly elected ruler: To-day, a 
fortunate day. the sun has risen upon us. warming us, so 
that in it a precious stone ma}' be wrought, and a hand- 
some sapphire. To us has appeared a new light, has 
arrived a new brightness, to us has been given a glitter- 
ing axe to rule and govern our nation, — has been given 
a man to take upon his shoulders the affairs and troubles 
of the state. He is to be the image and substitute of 
the lords and governors that have already passed away 
from this life, who fur some days labored, bearing 
the burden of thy people, possessing thy throne and 
seat, which is the principal dignity 4 ' 2 of this thy nation, 
province, and kingdom; having and holding the same 
in thy name and person some few days. These have 
now departed from this life, put off their shoulders the 

sat load and burden that so few are able to suffer. Xow. 
Lord, we marvel that thou hast indeed set thine eyes 
on this man. rude and of little knowledge, to make him 
for some days, for some little time, the governor of this 
state, nation, province, and kingdom. our Lord, most 
clement, art thou perad venture in want of persons and 
friends? — nay verily, thou that hast thereof more than 
can be counted! Is it, peradventure, by error, or that 
thou dost not know him; or is it that thou hast taken 
him for the nonce, while thou seekest among many for 

42 'Dignidad,' Sahagun, in Kingsborough's Mex. Ardiq., vol. v.. p. 350, 
misprinted 'diligencia' in UustanieinVs Sahagun, Hist. Gen., torn, ii., lib. 
vi., p. 46. 


another and a better than lie. unwise, indiscrete, un- 
profitable, a superfluous man in the world. Finally, we 
give thanks to thy majesty for the favor thou hast done 
us. What thy designs therein are thou alone knowest ; 
perhaps beforehand this office has been provided for: 
thy will be done as it is determined in thy heart; let 
this man serve for some days and times. It may be 
that he will fill this office d< (ectively, giving unrest and 
fear to his subjects, doing things without counsel or con- 
sideration, deeming himself worthy of the dignity he 
has, thinking that he will remain in it for a long time, 
making a sad dream of it, making the occupation and 
dignity thou hast given him an occasion of pride and 
presumption, making little of everybody and going about 
with pomp and pageantry. Within a few days, thou wilt 
know the event of all, for all men are thy spectacle and 
theatre, at which thou laughest and makest thyself 
merry. Perhaps this ruler will lose his office 
through his childishness, or it will happen through his 
carelessness and laziness; for verily nothing is hidden 
from thee, thy sight makes way through stone and 
wood, and thine hearing. Or perhaps his arrogance, 
and the secret boasting of his thoughts will destroy him. 
Then thou wilt throw him among the filth and upon the 
dung-hills, and his reward will lie blindness, and shri vei- 
lings, and extreme poverty till the hour of his death, 
when thou wilt put him under thy feet, Since this poor 
man is put in this risk and peril, we supplicate thee, 
who art our Lord, our invisible and impalpable protec- 
tor, under whose will and pleasure we are, who alone 
disposes of and provides for all. — we supplicate thee 
that thou see good to deal mercifully with him ; inas- 
much as he is needy, thy subject and servant, and blind; 
deign to provide him with thy light, that he may know 
what he has to think, what he has to do, and the road 
he has to follow, so as to commit no error in his office, 
contrary to thy disposition and will. Thou knowest 
what is to happen to him in this office both by day and 
night; we know, our Lord, most clement, that our 


ways and deeds are not so much in our hands as in the 
hands of our ruler. If this ruler after an evil and per- 
verse fashion, in the place to which thou hast elevated 
him, and in the seat in which thou hast put him. — which 
is thine, — where he manages the affairs of the people, 
as one that washes filthy things with clean and clear 
water, (yea in the same seat holds a similar cleansing 
office the ancient god, who is father and mother to thy- 
self, and is god of lire, who stands in the midst of flowers. 
in the midst of the place hounded by four walls, who is 
covered with shining feathers that are as wings), — if this 
ruler-elect of ours do evil with which to provoke thine 
ire and indignation, and to awaken thy chastisement 
against himself, it will not be of his own will or seek- 
ing, but by tin- permission or by some impulse from 
without ; for which I entreat thee to see good to open his 
eyes to give him light; open also his ears and guide him, 
not so much for his own sake as for that of those whom 
he has to rule over and carry on his shoulders/ 3 I sup- 

43 This doubtful and involved sentence, with the contained clause touching 
the nature of the lire-god, runs exactly as follows in the two varying editions 
of the original: ' Si alguna cosa aviesa d mal heche hiciera en la dignidad que 
le habeis dado, y en la silla en qne le habeis puesto, que es vuestra, donde 
esta tratando los negocios populares, como quien lava cosas sucias con agua 
nmy clara y muy limpia; en la qua! silla y dignidad tiene el mismo oficio de 
lavar vuestro padre y madre de todos los Dioses, el Dios antiguo que is el 
Dios del fuego, que esti en medio del albergne cerca de quatro paredes, y 
esta cubierto con plnmas resplandecientes que son como alas, lo que esto 
electo hiciese mal hecho, con que provoque vuestra ira e indignacion, y des- 
pierte vuestro castigo contra si, no sera *h j su albedrio 6 de su querer, sino de 
vuestra permision, 6 dealgun otra sugestion vuestra, 6 de otro; por lo cual os 
suplico t sngais por bien de abrirle los ojos y darle lumbre y abrirle las orejas, 
y guiadle a este pobre electo, no tanto por lo que el es, sino principalmente 
por aquellos a quienes ha de regir y Uevar a cuestas.' Sahayun, in Kinjs- 
borough's Mex. Antiq., vol. v., pp. 360-381. ; Si alguna cosa aviesa d mal 
hecha hiciere, en la dignidad que le habeis dado, y en la silla en que lo 
habeis puesto que es vuestra, donde est:i tratando los negocios populares, 
c imo quien laba cosas sucias. con agua muy clara y muy limpia, en la cual 
silla y dignidad tiene el mismo oricio de labar vuestro padre y madre, de 
t 1 1 >s los dioses, el dios antiguo, que es el dios del fuego que esta en medio 
de las flores, y en medio del albergne cercado de cuatro paredes. y esta 
cubierto con plumas resplandecientes que son somo alas; lo que este electo 
hiciere mal hecho con que provoque vuestra ira e indignacion, y despierte 
vuestro castigo contra si, 110 sera de su alvedrio de d su querer, sino de vues- 
tra permision, d de alguna otra sugestion vuestra. d de otro; por lo cual os 
suplico tengais por bien deabirle los ojos, y darle luz. y abridle tambien las 

j is, y guiad ;i este pobre electo: no tanto por lo que es el, sino principal- 
mente por aquellos a quien ha de regir y lWvar acuestas:' Bustameni 
Sahagun, Hist. Gen., torn, ii., lib. vi.. p. -IS. 


plicate thee, that now, from the beginning, thou inspire 
him with what he is to conceive in his heart, and the 
road he is to follow, inasmuch as thou hast made of him 
a seat on which to seat thyself, and also as it were a 
flute that, being played upon, may signify thy will. 
Make him, Lord, a faithful image of thyself, and per- 
mit not that in thy throne and hall he make himself 
proud and haughty; but rather see good, Lord, that 
quietly and prudently he rule and govern those in his 
charge who are common people: do not permit him to 
insult and oppress his subjects, nor to give over without 
reason any of them to destruction. Neither permit. 
Lord, that he spot and defile thy^ throne and hall with 
any injustice or oppression, for in so doing lie will stain 
also thine honor and lame. Already, Lord, has this 
poor man accepted and received the honor and lordship 
that thou hast given him ; already he possesses the glory 
and riches thereof; already thou hast adorned his hands, 
feet, head, ears, and lips, with visor, ear-rings, and brace- 
lets, and put yellow leather upon his ankles. Permit it 
not, Lord, that these decorations, badges, and ornaments 
be to him a cause of pride and presumption; but rather 
that he serve thee with humility and plainness. May it 
please thee, our Lord, most clement, that he rule and 
govern this, thy seignory. that thou hast committed to 
him, with all prudence and wisdom. May it please thee 
that he do nothing wrong or to thine offense ; deign to 
walk with him and direct him in all his ways. But if 
thou wilt not do this, ordain that from this day hence- 
forth he be abhorred and disliked, and that he die in 
war at the hands of his enemies, that he depart to the 
house of the sun; where he will be taken care of as a 
precious stone, and his heart esteemed by the sun-lord ; 
he dying in the war like a stout and valiant man. This 
would be much better than to be dishonored in the world, 
to be disliked and abhorred of his people for his faults or 
defects. our Lord, thou that providest to all the 
things needful for them, let this thing be done as I have 
entreated and supplicated thee. 


The next prayer, directed to the god under his name 
Tezcatlipoca Titlacaoamoquequeloa, is to ask, after the 
death of a ruler, that another may he given: our 
Lord, already thou knowest how our ruler is dead, 
already thou hast put him under thy feet- he is gathered 
to his place; he is gone by the road that all have to go 
by, and to the house where all have to lodge; house of 
perpetual darkness, where there is no window, nor any 
light at all; he is now where none shall trouble his rest. 
Tic served thee here in his office during some few days 
and years, not indeed without fault and offense. Thou 
gavest him to taste in this world somewhat of thy kind- 
ness and favor, passing it before his face as a thing that 
passes quickly. This is the dignity and office that thou 
placedst him in, that he served thee in for some days, as 
lias been said, with sighs, tears and devout prayers be- 
fore thy majesty. Alas, he is gone now where our 
father and mother the god of hades is, the god that 
descended head foremost below the fire, 44 the god that 
desires to carry us all to his place, with a very impor- 
tunate desire, with such a desire as one has that dies of 
hunger and thirst; the srod that is moved exceedinglv, 

( 7 O «/ 7 

both by day and night, crying and demanding that all 
to him. There, with this god. is now our late-de- 
parted ruler; he is there with all his ancestors that were 
in the first times, that governed this kingdom, with 
Acamapichtli, with Tyzoc, with Avitzotl, with the first 
Mocthecuzoma, with Axayacatl. and with those that 
came last, as the second Mocthecuzoma and also Moc- 
thecuzoma Ilhuicamina. 45 All these lords and kings 
ruled, governed, and enjoyed the sovereignty and royal 
dignity, and throne and seat of this empire; they 
ordered and regulated the affairs of this thy kingdom, — 
thou that art the universal lord and emperor, and that 
needest not to take counsel with another. Alread}^ had 

4! See this volume p. GO. 

45 Some of these names are differently spelt in Kincrsbororigli's ed., Mex. 

Antiq., vol. v., p. 15(52.: ' Uno de los quales fne Camapichtli, otro fue Tizocic, 

Avitzotl, otro el primero Motezuzoma, otro Axayaca, y los que ahora a 

la parte ban muerto, como el segundo Motezuzoma, y tambien Ylhiycaminai' 


these put off the intolerable load that they had on their 
shoulders, leaving it to their successor, our late ruler, so 
that for some days he bore up this lordship and kingdom ; 
but now he has passed on after his predecessors to the 
other world. For thou didst ordain him to go, and didst 
call him to give thanks for being unloaded of so great 
a burden, quit of so sore a toil, and left in peace and 
rest. Some few days we have enjoyed him, but now 
forever he is absent from ns, never more to return to 
the world. Peradventure has he gone to any place 
whence he can return here, so that his subjects may see 
his face again ? Will he come again to tell us to do this 
or that? Will he come again to look to the consuls or 
governors of the state ? Perad venture will the} 7 see him 
any more, or hear his decree and commandment? Will he 
come any more to give consolation and comfort to his 
principal men and his consuls ? Alas, there is an end 
to his presence, he is gone for ever. Alas, that our 
candle has been quenched, and our light, that the axe 
that shone with us is lost altogether. All his subjects and 
inferiors, he has left in orphanage and without shelter. 
Peradventure will he take care henceforward of this 
city, province, and kingdom, though this city be de- 
stroyed and leveled to the ground, with this seignory 
and kingdom? our Lord, most clement, is it a. fit 
thing that by the absence of him that died shall come to 
the city, seignory, and kingdom some misfortune, in 
which will be destroyed, undone, and affrighted the vas- 
sals that live therein? For while living, he who has 
died gave shelter under his wings, and kept his feathers 
spread over the people. Great danger runs this your 
cit}', seignory, and kingdom, if another ruler be not 
elected immediately to be a shelter thereto. What is it 
that thou art resolved to do? Is it good that thy people 
be in darkness? Is it good that they be without head or 
shelter? Is it thy will that they be leveled down and 
destroyed? Woe for the poor and the little ones, thy 
servants, that go seeking a father and mother, some one 
to shelter and govern them, even as little children that 


go weeping, seeking an absent father and mother, and 
that grieve, not finding them. Woe for the merchants, 
petty and poor, that go about by the mountains, deserts, 
and meadows, woe also to the sad toilers that iro about 

7 O 

seeking herbs to eat, roots and wood to burn, or to sell, 
to eke out an existence withal. Woe for the poor sol- 
diers, for the men of war. that go about seeking death, 
that abhor life, that think of nothing but the Held and 
the line where battle is given.— upon whom shall they 
call? who shall take a captive? to whom shall they pre- 
sent the same ? And if the}' themselves be taken cap- 
tive, to whom shall they give notice, that it ma} r be 
known in their land? Whom shall they take for father 
and mother, so that in such a case favor may be granted 
them? Since he whose duty it was to see to this, who 
was as father and mother to all. is already dead. There 
will be none to weep, to sigh for the captives, to tell 
their relatives about them. \\ oe for the poor of the 
litigants, for those that have lawsuits with those that 

i_ 7 

would take their estates. Who will judge, make peace 
among, and clear them of their disputes and quarrels? 
Behold when a child becomes dirty, if his mother clean 
him not, he must remain filthy. And those that make 
strife between themselves, that beat, that knock down, 
who will keep peace between them? Those that for all 
this go weeping and shedding tears, who shall wipe away 
their tears and put a stop to their laments? Peradven- 
ture can they apply a remedy to themselves? Those 
deserving death, will they peradventure pass sentence 
upon themselves? Who shall set up the throne of 
justice? Who shall possess the hall of the judge, 
since there is no judge? Who will ordain the 
things that are necessary for the £>;ood of this citv, 
seignory, and kingdom? Who will elect the special 
judges that have charge of the lower people, district by 
district? Who will look to the sounding of the drum 
and fife to gather the people for war? who will collect 
and lead the soldiers and dexterous men to battle? 
our Lord and protector see good to elect and decide upon 


some person sufficient to fill your throne and bear upon 
his shoulders the sore burden of the ruling of the state, 
to gladden and cheer the common people, even as the 
mother caresses the child, taking it in her lap; who will 
make music to the troubled bees* 6 so that they may be 
at rest? our Lord, most clement, favor our ruler- 
elect, whom we deem fit for this office, elect and choose 
him so that he may hold this your lordship and govern- 
ment; give him as a loan your throne and seat, so that 
he may rule over this seignory and kingdom as long as 
he lives; lift him from the lowliness and humility in 
which he is, and put on him this honor and dignity that 
we think him worthy of; our Lord, most clement, give 
light and splendor with your hand to this state and king- 
dom. AVhat has been said I only come to propose to thy 
majesty; although very defectively, as one that is drunk- 
en, and that staggers, almost ready to fall. T)o that 
which may best serve thee, in all and through all. 

What follows is a kind of greater excommunication, 
or prayer to get rid of a ruler that abused and misused 
his power and dignity: our Lord, most clement, that 
givest shelter to every one that approaches, even as a 
tree of great height and breadth, thou that art invisible 
and impalpable; that art, as we understand, able to 
penetrate the stones and the trees, seeing what is con- 
tained therein. For this same reason thou seest and 
knowest what is within our hearts and readest our 
thoughts. Our soul in thy presence is as a little smoke 
or fog that rises from the earth. It cannot at all be 
hidden from thee, the deed and the manner of living of 
any one; for thou seest and knowest his secrets and the 
sources of his pride and ambition. Thou knowest that 
our ruler has a cruel and hard heart and abuses the 
dignity that thou hast given him, as the drunkard abuses 
his wine, as one drunken with a soporific; 47 that is to say 
that the riches, dignity, and abundance that for a little 

40 'OVj;is,' in Bustamente's ed. Sahagun, Hist. Gen., tom.ii., lib. vi., p. 
53; ' abejas' in Kingsborough's Mex. Antiq., vol. v., p. 364. 

17 • Y coin j el loco de los belcfios.' Sahagun, Hist. Gen., torn. ii.. lib. vi., 
p. bl. 



while thou hast given him. fill him with error, haughti- 
ness, and unrest, and that he hecomes a fool, intoxicated 
with the poison that makes him mad. His prosperity 
causes him to despise and make little of eveiy one; it 
seems that his heart is covered with sharp thorns and 
also his face: all of which is made apparent by his man- 
ner of living, and by his manner of talking; never say- 
ing nor doing anything that gives pleasure to any one, 
never caring for any one, never taking counsel of any one ; 
he ever lives as seems good to him and as the whim 
directs. our Lord, most clement, protector of all, 
creator and maker of all, it is too certain that this man 
has destroyed himself, has acted like a child ungrateful 
to his father, like a drunkard without reason. The 
favors thou hast accorded him, the dignity thou hast set 
him in, have occasioned his perdition. Besides these, 
there is another thing, exceedingly hurtful and repre- 
hensible: he is irreligious, never praying to the gods, 
never weeping before them, nor grieving for his sins, nor 
sighing ; from this it comes about that he is as headstrong 
as a drunkard in his vices, going about like a hollow and 
empty person, wholly senseless; he stays not to consider 
what he is nor the office that he fills. Of a verity he 
dishonors and affronts the dignity and throne that he 
holds, which is thine, and which ought to be much 
honored and reverenced ; for from it depends the justice 
and rightness of the judicature that he holds, for the sus- 
taining and worthily directing of thy nation, thou being 
emperor of all. He should so hold his power that the low- 
er people be not injured and oppressed by the great; from 
him should fall punishment and humiliation on those 
that respect not thy power and dignity. But all things 
and people suffer loss in that he fills not his office as he 
ought. The merchants suffer also, who are those to whom 
thou givest the most of thy riches, who overrun all the 
world, yea the mountains and the unpeopled places, 
seeking through much sorrow thy gifts, favors, and dain- 
ties, the which thou givest sparingly and to thy friends. 
Ah, Lord, not only does he dishonor thee as aforesaid, 


but also when we are gathered together to intone thy 
songs, gathered in the place where we solicit thy mercies 
and gifts, in the place where thou art praised and prayed 
to, where the sad ailiicted ones and the poor gather com- 
fort and strength, where very cowards find spirit to die 
in war, — in this so holy and reverend place this man 
exhibits his dissoluteness and hurts devotion ; he troubles 
those that serve and praise thee in the place where thou 
gatherest and markest thy friends, as a shepherd marks 
his flock. 48 Since thou, Lord, nearest and knowest to be 
true all that I have now said in thy presence, there re- 
mains no more but that thy will be done, and the good 
pleasure of thy heart to the remedy of this affair. At 
least, Lord, punish this man in such wise that he he- 
come a warning to others, so that they may not imitate 
his evil life. Let the punishment fall on him from thy 
hand that to thee seems most meet, be it sickness or 
any other ailliction; or deprive him of the lordship, so 
that thou mayest give it to another, to one of thy friends, 
to one humble, devoted, and penitent; for many such 
thou hast, thou that lackest not persons such as are 
necessary for this office, friends that hope, crying to thee : 
thou knowest those for friends and servants that weep 
and sigh in thy presence every da}'. Elect some one of 
these that he may hold the dignity of this thy kingdom 
and seignory ; make trial of some of these. And now, 
Lord, of all the aforesaid things which is it that thou 
wilt grant? Wilt thou take from this ruler the lordship, 
dignity, and riches on which he prides himself, and give 
them to another who may be devout, penitent, humble, 
obedient, capable, and of good understanding? Or. per- 
ad venture, wilt thou be served by the falling of this 
proud one into poverty and misery, as one of the poor 
rustics that can hardly gather the wherewithal to cat, 
drink, and clothe himself? Or, peradventure, will it 
please thee to smite him with a sore punishment so that 

4S Both editors of Sahagun agree heroin using the word 'obejas.' As 
sheep were unknown in Mexico it is too evident that other hands than Mexi- 
can have been employed in the construction of this simile. 


all his body may .shrivel up, or his eyes be made blind, 
or his members rotten? Or wilt thou be pleased 
to withdraw him from the world through death, and 
send him to hades, to the house of darkness and obscur- 
ity, where his ancestors are, whither we have all to go, 
where our father is, and our mother, the god and the 
goddess of hell. our Lord, most clement, what is it 
that thy heart desires the most? Let thy will be done. 
And in this matter in which I supplicate thee, I am not 
moved by envy nor hate; nor with any such motives 
have I come into thy presence. I am moved only by 
the robbery and ill-treatment that the people suffer, only 
by a desire for their peace and prosperity. I would not 
desire, Lord, to provoke against myself thy wrath and 
indignation, I that am a mean man and rude; for it is 
to thee, Lord, to penetrate the heart and to know the 
thoughts of all mortals. 

The following is a form of Mexican praj^er to Tezcat- 
lipoca, used by the officiating confessor alter having heard 
a confession of sins from some one. The peculiarity of 
a Mexican confession was that it could not lawfully have 
place ina man's life more than once ; a mans first absolu- 
tion and remission of sins was also the last and the only 
one he had to hope for: — our most compassionate 
Lord, protector and favorer of all, thou hast now heard 
the confession of this poor sinner, with which he has 
published in thy presence his rottenness and unsavori- 
ness. Perhaps he has hidden some of his sins before 
thee, and if it be so he has irreverently and offensively 
mocked thy majesty, and thrown himself into a dark 
cavern and into a deep ravine; 49 he has snared and en- 
tangled himself; lie has made himself worth v of blind- 
ness, shrivelling and rotting of the members, poverty, 
and misery. Alas, if this poor sinner have attempted 

49 ' Si es asi ha hecho burla de V.M., y con desacato y grande ofensa, se 
ha arrojado a una cima, y en una profunda barranca:' Bustamente's ed. of 
Sahagun, Hist. Gen., torn, ii., lib. vi., p. 58. The same passage runs as fol- 
lows in Kingsborough's ed. : ' Si es asi ha hecho burla de vuestra magestad, y 
con desacato y grande ofensa de vuestra magestad sera arrojado en una sima, 
y en una profunda barranca:' Kingsborough's Mex. Antiq., vol. v., p. ^G7. 


any such audacity as to offend thus before thy majesty, 
before thee that art lord and emperor of all, that keepest 
a reckoning with all, he has tied himself up, he has made 
himself vile, he has mocked himself. Thou thoroughly 
seest him, for thou seest all things, being invisible and 
without bodily parts. If he have done this thing, he has, 
of his own will, put himself in this peril and risk ; for 
this is a place of very strict justice and very strait judg- 
ment. This rite is like very clear water with which 
thou washest away the faults of him that wholly con- 
fesses, even if he have incurred destruction and 
shortening of days; if indeed he have told all the 
truth, and have freed and untied himself from his sins 
and faults, he has received the pardon of them and of 
what the}' have incurred. This poor man is even as a 
man that has slipped and fallen in thy presence, offend- 
ing thee in divers ways, dirting himself also and casting 
himself into a deep cavern and a bottomless well. 51 He 
fell like a poor and lean man, and now he is grieved and 
discontented witli all the past; his heart and body are 
pained and ill at ease; he is now filled with heaviness 
for having done what he did ; he is now wholly deter- 
mined never to offend thee again. In thy presence, 
Lord, I speak, that knowest all things, that knowest 
also that this poor wretch did not sin with an entire 
liberty of free will; he was pushed to it and inclined by 
the nature of the sign under which he was born. And 
since this is so, our Lord, most clement, protector and 
helper of all. since also this poor man has gravely offend- 
ed thee, wilt thou not remove thine anger and thine in- 
dignation from him? Give him time, Lord; favor 
and pardon him, inasmuch as he weeps, sighs, and sobs, 
looking before him on the evil he has done, and on that 
wherein he has offended thee. He is sorrowful, he sheds 
many tears, the sorrow of his sins afflicts his heart; he 
is not sorry only, but terrified also at thoughts of them. 
This being so, it is also a just thing that thy fury and 

5* 'Poca' is misprinted for • poza ' in Bustamente's eel., Sahagun, Hid. 
iren., torn. ii., lib. v., p. 58. 


indignation against him be appeased and that his sins 
be thrown on one side. Since thou art full of pity, 
Lord, see good to pardon and to cleanse him; grant him 
the pardon and remission of his sins, a thing that de- 
scends from heaven, as water very clear and very pure 
to wash away sins, 52 with which thou washest away all 
the stain and impurity that sin causes in the soul. See 
good. Lord, that this man go in peace, and command 
him in what he has to do; let him go to do penance for 
and to weep over his sins; give him the counsels neces- 
sary to his well living. 

At this point the confessor ceases from addressing the 
god and turns to the penitent, saying: my brother, thou 
hast come into a place of much peril, a place of travail 
and fear; thou hast come to a steep chasm and a sheer 
rock, where if any one fill he shall never come up again; 
thou hast come to the very place where the snares and the 
nets touch one another, where they are set one upon an- 
other, in such wise that no one may pass thereby without 
falling into some of them, and not only snares and nets 
but also holes like wells. Thou hast thrown thyself down 
the banks of the river and among the snares and nets, 
whence without aid it is not possible that thou shouldst 
escape. These thy sins are not only snares, nets, and 
wells, into which thou hast fallen, but they are also wild 
beasts that kill and rend both body and soul. Perad- 
venture, hast thou hidden some one or some of thy sins, 
weighty, huge, filthy, unsavory, hidden something now 
published in heaven, earth, and hades, something that 
now stinks to the uttermost part of the world ? Thou 
hast now presented thjself before our most clement Lord 
and protector of all, whom thou didst irritate, oftend, and 
provoke the anger of, who to-morrow, or some other 
day, will take thee out of this world and put thee under 

52 ' Oosa que deseiende del cielo, como agua clarisima y pur'sima par lavar 
Iot pecados:' Sahagun, in Kinqsborough's Mex. Antiq., vol. v., p. 36d. See 
also Sahagun, Hist. Gen., torn, ii., lib. vi., p. 59. 

The quality of mercy is not strain'd 

It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven 

I 'pun the place beneath: Merchant of \'tn'ice, act. iv. 


his feet, and send thee to the universal house of hades, 
where thy father is and thy mother, the god and the 
goddess of hell, whose mouths are always open desiring 
to swallow thee and as many as may be in the world. 
In that place shall be given thee whatsoever thou didst 
merit in this world, according to the divine justice, and 
to what thou hast earned with thy works of poverty, 
misery, and sickness. In divers manners thou wilt he 
tormented and afflicted in the extreme, and wilt be soaked 
in a lake of intolerable torments and miseries; but here, 
at this time, thou hast had pity upon thyself in speaking 
and communicating with our Lord, with him that sees 
all the secrets of every heart. Tell therefore wholly all 
that thou hast done, as one that flings himself into a 
deep place, into a well without bottom. When thou wast 
created and sent into the world, clean and good thou 
wast created and sent; thy father and thy mother Quet- 
zalcoatl formed thee like a precious stone, and like a 
bead of gold of much value; when thou wast born thou 
wast like a rich stone and a jewel of gold very shining 
and very polished. But of thine own will and volition 
thou hast defiled and stained thyself, and rolled in 
filth, and in the uncleanness of the sins and evil deeds 
that thou hast committed and now confessed. Thou 
hast acted as a child without judgment or understand- 
ing, that playing and toying defiles himself with a loath- 
some filth; so hast thou acted in the matter of the sins 
that thou hast taken pleasure in, but hast now confessed 
and altogether discovered before our Lord, who is the 
protector and purifier of all sinners.. This thou shalt 
not take for an occasion of jesting, for verily thou hast 
come to the fountain of mercy, which is like very clear 
water, with which filthinesses of the soul are washed 
away by our Lord God, the protector and favorer of all 
that turn to him. Thou hast snatched thyself from 
hades, and hast returned again to come to life in this 
world, as one that comes from another. Now thou hast 
been born anew, thou hast begun to live anew, and our 
Lord God gives thee light and a new sun. Now once 


more thou beginnest to radiate and to shine anew like 
a very precious and clear stone, issuing from the belly 
of the matrix in which it was created. Since this is 
thus, see that thou live with much circumspection and very 
advisedly now and henceforward, all the time that thou 
mayesfc live in this world under the power and lordship 
of our Lord God, most clement, beneficent, and munif- 
icent. Weep, be sad, walk humbly, with submission, 
with the head low and bowed down, praying to God. 
Look that pride find no place within thee, otherwise thou 
wilt displease our Lord, who sees the hearts and the 
thoughts of all mortals. In what dost thou esteem thy- 
self? At how much dost thou hold thyself? What is 
thy foundation and root? On what dost thou support 
thvself? It is clear that thou art nothing, canst do no- 
thing, and art worth nothing; for our Lord will do with 
thee all he may desire and none shall stay his hand. 
Peradventure, must he show thee those things with 
which he torments and afflicts, so that thou mayest see 
them with thine eyes in this world? Nay verily, for the 
torments and horrible sufferings of his tortures of the 
other world are not visible, nor able to be seen by those 
that live here. Perhaps he will condemn thee to the 
universal house of hades ; and the house where thou now 
livest will fall down and be destroyed, and be as a dung- 
hill of filthiness and uncleanness, thou having been ac- 
customed to live therein with much satisfaction, waiting 
to know how he would dispose of thee, he our Lord and 
helper, the invisible, incorporeal and alone one. Therefore 
I entreat thee to stand up and strengthen thyself and to 
be no more henceforth as thou hast been in the past. 
Take to thyself a new heart and a new manner of living, 
and take good care not to turn again to thine old sins. 
Consider that thou canst not see with thine eyes our 
Lord God, for he is invisible and impalpable, he is Tez- 
catlipoca. he is Titlacaoa, he is a youth of perfect per- 
fection and without spot. Strengthen thyself to sweep, 
to clean, and to arrange thy house; for if thou do not 
this, thou wilt reject from thy company and from thy 


house, and wilt offend much the very clement youth that 
is ever walking through our houses, and through our 
streets, enjoying and amusing himself, — the youth that 
labors, seeking his friends, to comfort them and to comfort 
himself with them. To conclude, I tell thee to go and 
learn to sweep, and .to get rid of the filth and sweepings 
of thy house, and to cleanse everything, thyself not the 
least. Seek out also a slave to immolate him before God ; 
make a feast to the principal men, and let them sing 
the praises of our Lord. It is moreover fit that thou 
shouldst do penance, working a year or more in the house 
of God ; there thou shalt bleed thyself, and prick thy 
body with maguey thorns; and, as a penance for the 
adulteries and other vilenesses that thou hast committed, 
thou shalt, twice every day, pass osier twigs through 
holes pierced in thy body, once through thy tongue, and 
once through thine ears. This penance shalt thou do 
not alone for the carnalities above mentioned, but also 
for the evil and injurious words with which thou hast 
insulted and affronted thy neighbors; as also for the 
ingratitude thou hast shown with reference to the gifts 
bestowed on thee by our Lord, and for thine inhumanity 
toward thy neighbors, neither making offerings of the 
goods that were given thee by God, nor sharing with 
the poor the temporal benefits given by our Lord. Thou 
shalt burden thyself to offer paper and copal ; thou shalt 
give alms to the needy and the hungry, to those that 
have nothing to eat nor to drink nor to cover themselves 
with; even though thou thyself go without food to give 
it away and to clothe the naked: look to it, for their 
flesh is like thy flesh, and they are men as thou. Care 
most of all for the sick, they are the image of God. 53 
There remains nothing more to be said to thee; go in 
peace, and entreat God to aid thee to fulfill what thou 
art obliged to do; for he gives favor to all. 

The following prayer is one addressed to Tezcatlipoca 
by a recently elected ruler, to give thanks for his election 

53 . . . . ' mayorniente a los enfermos porque son im'igeu do dios.' Sahagun, 
Hist. <Jm., torn, ii., lib. vi., p. 63. 
Vol. III. 15 


and to ask favor and light for the proper performance of 
his office: our lord, most clement, invisible and im- 
palpable protector and governor, well do I know that 
thou knowest me, who am a poor man, of low destiny, 
born and brought up among filth, and a man of small 
reason and mean judgment, full of many delects and 
faults, a man that knows not himself, nor considers who 
he is. Thou hast bestowed on me a great benefit, favor, 

C i 7 

and mercy, without any merit on my part; thou hast 
lifted me from the dung-hill and set me in the royal 
dignity and throne. Who am I, my Lord, and what is 
my worth that thou shouldst put me among the num- 
ber of those that thou lovest? among the number of 
thine acquaintance, of those thou boldest for chosen 
friends and worthy of all honor; born and brought up 
for thrones and royal dignities; to this end thou hast 
created them able, prudent, descended from noble and 
generous fathers; for this end they were created and 
educated; to be thine instruments and images they were 
born and baptized under the signs and constellations that 
lords are born under. They were born to rule thy king- 
doms, thy word being within them and speaking by their 
mouth. — according to the desire of the ancient god. 
the father of all the gods, the god of fire, who is in the 
pond of water among turrets surrounded with stones like 
roses, who is called Xiuhtecutli. who determines, exam- 
ines, and settles the business and lawsuits of the nation 
and of the common people, as it were washing them with 
water; in the company and presence of this god the 
generous personages aforementioned always are. 
most clement Lord, ruler, and governor, thou hast done 

7 7 C 

me a great favor. Perhaps it has been through the in- 
tercession and through the tears shed by the departed 
lords and ladies that had charge of this kingdom. 54 It 
would be great madness to suppose that for any merit 
or courage of mine thou hast favored me. setting me 
over this your kingdom, the government of which is 

51 ' Los pasados senores y sefioras que tuvieron cargo do este reino.' Saha- 

gun, Hid. <Jl j u., torn, ii., lib. vi., p. 71. 


something very heavy, difficult, and even fearful; it is 

as a huge burden, carried on the shoulders, and one that 
with great difficulty the past rulers bore, ruling in thy 
name. our Lord, most clement, invisible, and impal- 
pable, ruler and governor, creator and knower of all 
things and thoughts, beautifier of thy creatures, 55 what 
shall I say more, poor me? hi what wise have I to 
rule and govern this thy state, or how have I to 
carry this burden of the common people? I who 
am blind and deaf, who do not even know myself, nor 
know how to rule over myself I am accustomed to 
walk in filth, my faculties fit me for seeking and selling 
edible herbs, and for carrying and selling wood. What 
I deserve, Lord, is blindness lor mine eyes and 
shriveling and rotting for my limbs, and to go dressed 
in rags and tatters; this is what 1 deserve and what 
ought to be given me. It is I that need to be ruled and 
to be carried on some one's back. Thou hast mam- 
friends and acquaintances that may be trusted with this 
load. Since, however, thou has already determined to 
set me up for a scoff and a jeer to the world, let thy will 
be done and thy word fulfilled. Perad venture thou 
knowest not who 1 am; and, after having known me, 
wilt seek another and take the government from me; 
taking it again to thyself, hiding again in thyself this 
dignity and honor, being already angry and weary of 
bearing with me; and thou wilt give the government to 
another, to some close friend and acquaintance of thine, 
to some one very devout toward thee, that weeps and 
sighs and so merits this dignity. Or, peradventure, 
this thing that happened to me is a dream, or a 
walking in sleep. () Lord, thou that art present 
in every place, that knowest all thoughts, that dis- 
tfibutest all gifts, be pleased not to hide from me thy 
words and thine inspiration. 1 do not know the road 1 
have to follow, nor what 1 Lave to do, deign then not 

55 « Adornador de las criaturas:' Sahagan, in Kings')orou r ih , s Mex. Antiq., 
vol. v., p. '611. 'Adornador de las almas.' Sahagun, Hid. Gen., torn, ii., lib. 
vi., p. 71. 


to hide from me the light and the mirror that have to 
guide me. Do not allow me to cause those I have to 
rule and carry on my shoulders to lose the road and to 
wander over rocks and mountains. Do not allow me to 
guide them in the tracks of rabbits and deer. Do not 
permit. Lord, any war to be raised against me, nor 
any pestilence to come upon those I govern ; for I should 
not know, in such a case, what to do, nor where to take 
those I have upon my shoulders; alas for me, that am 
incapable and ignorant, I would not that any sickness 
come upon me, for in that case thy nation and people 
would be lost, and thy kingdom desolated and given up 
to darkness. What shall 1 do, Lord and creator, if 
by chance I fall into some disgraceful fleshly sin, and 
thereby ruin the kingdom"? what do if by negligence or 
sloth 1 undo my subjects? what do if through my fault [ 
hurl down a precipice those I have to rule? Our Lord, 
most clement, invisible and impalpable, I entreat thee 
not to separate thyself from me; visit me often; visit 
this poor house, for 1 will be waiting for thee therein. 
A\ ith great thirst I await thee and demand urgently 
thy word and inspiration, which thou didst breathe into 
thine ancient friends and acquaintances that have ruled 
with diligence and rectitude over thy kingdom. This is 
thy throne and honor, on either side whereof are seated 
thy senators and principal men. who are as thine image 
and Aery person. They give sentence and speak on the 
aifairs of the state in thv name: thou usest them as 
thy flutes, speaking from within them and placing thy- 
self in their faces and ears, opening their mouths so that 
they may speak well. In this place the merchants mock 
and jest at our follies, with which merchants thou art 
spending thy leisure, since the}' are thy friends and ac- 
quaintances; there also thou inspirest and breathest upon 
thy devoted ones, who weep and sigh in thy presence, 
•incerely giving thee their heart, 58 For this reason thou 

56 The precise force of much of this sentence it is hard to understand. It 

.is to show, at any rate, tint the merchants were supposed to he very 

intimate with and especially favored by this deity. The original runs as 

follows: 'Eneste lugar burlan y rien de nuestras los negocianks, 


adornest them with prudence and wisdom, so that they 
may look as into a mirror with two faces, where ev 
ones image is to be seen; 57 for this thou givest them a 
very clear axe. without any dimness, whose brightm 
flashes into all places. For this cause also thou givest 
them gifts and precious jewels, hanging them from their 
irccks and ears, even like material ornaments such as are 
the nacochtl, the tentetl, the tlapiloni or head-tassel, the 
matemecatl or tanned strap that lords tie round their 
wrists, 58 the yellow leather bound on the ankles, the 
heads of gold, and the rich feathers. In this place of 
the good governing and rule of thy kingdom, are merited 
thy riches and glory, thy sweet and delightful things, 
calmness and tranquillity, a peaceable and contented life; 
all of which come from thy hand. In the same place, 
lastlv. are also merited the adverse and wearisome things, 
sickness, poverty, and the shortness of life ; which things 
are sent by thee to those that in this condition do not 
fulfill their duty. our Lord, most clement, knower of 
thoughts and giver of gifts, is it in my hand, that am a 
mean man, to know how to rule? is the manner of my 
life in my hand, and the works that I have to do in my 
office? which indeed is of thy kingdom and dignity and 
not mine. "What thou mayest wish me to do and what 
may be thy will and disposition, thou aiding me I will 
do. The road thou mayest show me I will walk in; 
that thou mayest inspire me with, and put in my 
heart, that I will say and speak. our Lord, most 
clement, in thy hand I wholly place myself, for it is not 
possible for me to direct or govern myself; I am blind, 
darkness, a dung-hill. See good, Lord, to give me a 

con los quales ostitis vos holgandoos, porque son vuestros amigos y vuestros 
conoeidos, y alii inspirais e insutiais a vuestros devotos, que lloran y suspi- 
ran en vuestra presencia y os dan de verdad su corazon.' Sahagun, Hist. Gen., 
toni ii., lib. vi., p. 13. 

■>'< "Para que vean como en espejo de dos hazes, donde se representa la 
imagen de cada uno'. Sahagun, Hist. Gen., torn, ii., lib. vi., p. 73. 

58 Nacochtli, orejeras [ear-rings]; Tentetl, be^ote de indio [lip-ornament]: 
Molina, Vocabulario. Molina gives also Matemecatl to mean, a gold bracelet 
or something of that kind; Bustamante translates the word in the same way, 
explaining that the strap mentioned in the text was used to tie the bracelet 
on. Sahagun, Hist. Gen., torn, ii., lib. vi., p. 74. 


little light, though it be only as much as a fire-fly gives 
out, going about at night; to light me in this dream, in 
this life asleep that endures as for a day; where are 
many things to stumble at, many tilings to give occasion 
for laughing at one, man}' things like a rugged road that 
has to be gone over by leaps. All this has to happen in 
the position thou hast put me in, giving me thy .seat and 
dignity. Lord, most clement. I entreat thee to visit 
me with thy light, that I may not err, that 1 may not 
undo myself, that my vassals may not cry out against 
me. our Lord, most pitiful, thou hast made me now 
the back-piece 50 Qf thy chair, also thy flute; all without 
any merit of mine. I am thy mouth, thy face, thine 
ears, thy teeth, and thy nails. Although I am a mean man 
I desire to say that I unworthily represent th}' person, 
and thine image, that the words I shall speak have to 
be esteemed as thine, that my face has to he held as 
thine, mine eyes as thine, and the punishment that I 
shall inflict as if thou hadst inflicted it. For all this 
1 entreat thee to put thy spirit within me, and thy words, 
so that all may ohey them and none contradict. 00 

Xow with regard to the measure of the genuineness of 
the prayers to Tezcatlipoca. just given, it seems evident 
that either with or without the conscious connivance of 
Father Bernardino de Sahagun, their historian, a certain 
amount of sophistication and adaptation to Christian 
ideas has crept into them; it appears to be just as evi- 
dent, however, on the other hand, that they contain a 
great deal that is original, indigenous, and characteristic 
in regard to the Mexican religion. At any rate they 
purport to do so, and as evidence bearing on the matter, 
presented by a hearer and eye-witness at first hand, by 

59 'Espaldar de vuestra silla.' Sahagun, JTUf. Gen., torn, ii., lib. vi., p. 75. 

< i0 ' He that delivered this prayer before Tezcatlipoca, stood on his feet, 
his feet close together, bending himself towards the earth. Those that were 
very devout were naked. Before they began the prayer they offered copal to 
the fire, or some other sacrifice, and if they were covered with a blanket, they 
pulled the knot of it round to the breast, so that they were naked in front. 
Some spoke this prayer squatting on their calves, and kept the knot of the 
blanket on the shoulder ' Sahagun Hist, inn., torn, ii., lib. vi., p. 75. 


a man of strongly authenticated probity, learning, and 
above all, of strong sympathy with the Mexican people, 
beloved and trusted by those of them with whom he 
came in contact, and admitted to the familiarity of a 
friend with their traditions and habits of thought, — for 
all these reasons his evidence, however we may esteem 
it, must he heard and judged. 


61 Father Bernardino de Sahagun, a Spanish Franciscan, was one of the 
first preachers sent to Mexico; where he was much employed in the in- 
struction of the native youth, working for the most part in the province of 
Tezcuco. While there, in the city of Tepeopulco, in the latter part of the 
sixt ciith century, he began the work, best known to us as the Historic/, 
General de las Cosas de Nueva Espana, from which the above prayers have 
been translated, and from which we shall draw largely for further informa- 
tion. It would be hard to imagine a work of such a character constructed 
after a better fashion of working than his. Gathering the principal natives of 
the town in which he carried on his labors, he induced them to appoint him 
a number of persons, the most learned and experienced in the things of which 
he wished to write. These learned Mexicans being collected, Father Saha- 
gun was accustomed to get them to paint down in their native fashion the 
various legends, details of history and mythology, and so on that he wanted : at 
the foot of the said pictures these learned Mexicans wrote out the explanations 
of the same in the Mexican tongue; and this explanation the Father Saha- 
gun translated into Spanish: that translation purports to be what we now- 
read as the Historia General. Here follows a translation of the Frologo of 
his work, in which he describes all the foregoing in his own way: "All 
writers labor the best that they can to make their works authoritative; s< i 
by witnesses worthy of faith, others by the writings of previous writers held 
worthy of belief, others by the testimony of the Sacred Scriptures. To me 
are wanting all these foundations to make authoritative what I have wril 
in these twelve books [of the Historia General']. I have no other founda- 
tion, but to set down here the relation of the diligence that I made to know 
tie: truth of all that is written in these twelve books. As I have said in other 
prologues to this work, I was commanded in all holy obedience by my chief 
prelate to write in the Mexican language that which appeared to me to bo 
useful for the doctrine, worship, and maintenance of Christianity among 
these natives of New Spain, and for the aid of the workers and ministers that 
taught them. Having received this commandment, I made in the Spanish 
language a minute or memorandum of all the matters that I had to treat of, 
which matters are what is written in the twelve books, . . . .which were begun 
in the pueblo of Tepeopulco, which is in the province of Culhuacan or Tez- 
coco. The work was done in the following way. In the aforesaid pueblo, I 
got together all the principal men, together with the lord of the place, who 
was called Don Diego de Mendoza, of great distinction and ability, well experi- 
enced in things ecclesiastic, military, political, and even relating to idolatry. 
They being come together, I set before them what I proposed to do, and 
prayed them to appoint me able and experienced persons, with whom i 
might converse and come to an understanding on such questions as I might 
propose. They answered me that they would talk the matter over and give 
their answer on another day; and with this they took their departure. So 
on another day the lord and his principal men came, and having conferred 
together with great solemnity, as they were accustomed at that time to do, 
they chose out ten or twelve of the principal old men, and told me that with 
e I might communicate and that these would instruct me in any matters 
I should inquire of. Of these there were as many as four instructed in Latin, 
to whom I, some few years before, had myself taught grammar in the college 


of Santa Cruz, in Tlaltelolco. With these appointed principal men, includ- 
ing the four instructed in grammar, I talked many days during about two 
years, following the order of the minute I had already made out. On all the 
subjects on which we conferred they gave me pictures, — which were the 
writings anciently in use among them, — and these the grammarians inter- 
preted to me in their language, writing the interpretation at the foot of 
the picture. Even to this day I hold the originals of these. . . . When I went 
to the chapter, with which was ended the seven years' term of Fray Francis- 
co Toral — he that had imposed the charge of this work upon me — I was re- 
moved from Tcpeopulco, carrying all ni} r writings. I went to reside at Sant- 
i Lgo del Tlaltelolco. There I brought together the principal men, set before 
them the matter of my writings, and asked them to appoint me some able 
principal men, with whom I might examine and talk over the writings I had 
brought from Tepeopulco. The governor, with the alcaldes, appointed me 
as many as eight or ten principal men, selected from all the most able in their 
language, and in the things of their antiquities. With these and with four 
or five collegians, all trilinguists, and living for the space of a year or more 
secluded in the college, all that had been brought written from Tepeopulco 
wis clearly emended and added to; and the whole was rewritten in small 
letters, for it was written with much haste. In this scrutiny or examination, 
he that worked the hardest of all the collegians was Martin Jacobita, who 
wis then rector of the college, an inhabitant of the ward of Santa Ana. I, 
having done all as above said in Tlaltelolco, went, taking with me all my 
writings, to reside in San Francisco de Mexico, where, by myself, for the space 
of three years. I examined over and over again the writings, emended them, 
divided them into twelve books, and each book into chapters and paragraphs. 
After this, Father Miguel Navarro being provincial, and Father Diego de 
Mendoza commissary-general in Mexico, with their favor I had all the 
twelve books clearly copied in a good hand, as also the Postilla and the Can- 
t ires [which were other works on which Sahagun was engaged]. I made 
out also an Art of the Mexican language with a vocabulary-appendix. Now 
the Mexicans added to and emended my twelve books [of the Sistoria Gene- 
r //] in many things while they were being copied out in full; so that the first 
sieve through which my work passed was that of Tepeopulco, the second 
that of Tlaltelolco, the third that of Mexico; and in all these scrutinies collegi- 
ate grammarians had been employed. The chief and most learned was An- 
tonio Valeriano. a resident of Aztcapuzalco ; another, little less than the first, 
was Alonso Vegerano, resident of Cuauhtitlan; another was Martin Jacobita, 
above mentioned: another Pedro de Santa Buenaventura, resident of Cuauh- 
titlan; all expert in three languages, Latin, Spanish, and Indian [Mexican]. 
The scribes that made out the clear copies of all the works are Diego 
Degrado, resident of the ward of San Martin, Mateo Severino. resident of Xo- 
chimilco, of the part of Ullac. The clear copy being fully made out, by the 
favor of the fathers above mentioned and the expenditure of hard cash on the 
scribes, the author thereof asked of the delegate Father Francisco de Rivera 
that the work be submitted to three or four religious, so that they might give 
an opinion on it, and that in the provincial chapter, which was close at hand, 
they might attend and report on the matter to the assembly, speaking as 
the thing might appear to them. And these reported in the assembly that 
the writings were of much value and deserved such support as was necessary 
toward their completion. But to some of the assembby it seemed that it 
was contrary to their vows of poverty to spend money in copying these writ- 
ings; so they commanded the author to dismiss his scribes, and that he 
alone with his own hand should do what copying he wanted done ; but as he 
was more than seventy years old, and for the trembling of his hand not able 
to write anything, nor able to procure a dispensation from this mandate, 
there was nothing done with the writings for more than five years. During 
this interval, and at the next chapter. Father Miguel Navarro was elected 
by the general chapter for custos custodium, and Father Alonso de Escalona, 
for provincial. During this time the author made a summary of all the 
books and of all the chapters of each book, and 2)rologues, wherein was said 


with brevity all that the boohs contained. This summary Father Miguel 
Navarro and his companion, Father Geronimo de Mendieta, carried to Spain, 
and thus in Spain the things that had been written about this land made 
their appearance. In the mean time, the father provincial took all the 
books of the author and dispersed them through all the province, where they 
were seen by many religions and approved for very precious and valuable. 
After some years, the general chapter meeting again, Father Miguel Navarro, 
at the petition of the author, turned with censures to collect again the said 
books; which, from that collecting, came within about a year into the 
hands of the author. During that time nothing was done in them, nor was 
there any one to help to get them translated into the vernacular Spanish, 
until the delegate-general Father Rodrigo de Sequera came to these parts, 
s iw and was much pleased with them, and commanded the author to translate 
them into Spanish; providing all that was necessary to their being re-written, 
the Mexican language in one column and the Spanish in another, so that they 
might be sent to Spain: for the most illustrious Senor Don Juan de Ovando, 
president of the Council of Indies, had inquired after them, he knowing of 
them by reason of the summary that the said Father Miguel Navarro had 
carried to Spain, as above said. And all the above-said is to show that this 
work has been examined and approved by many, and during many years 
has passed through many troubles and misfortunes before reaching the place 
it now has:' Sahagun, J/ist. (Jen,., torn, i., lib. i., Prdlogo, pp. iii. vii. As to 
the date at which Sahagun wrote he says: 'These twelve books and the Art 
and the vocabulary-appendix were finished in a clear copy in the year 1569; 
but not translated into Spanish.' Sahagun, Hist. Gen., torn, ii., lib. i., Intro- 
duccion, p. xv. The following scanty sketch of the life of Sahagun, is taken, 
after Bustamante. from the Menealogio Serdjico of Father Betancourt: 'Fa- 
ther Bernardino Sahagun, native of Sahagun, took the robe in the convent 
of Salamanca, being a student of that university. He passed into this pro- 
vince [Mexico] in the year 1529, in the company of Father Antonio de Ciudad 
Rodrigo. While a youth he was endowed with a beauty and grace of person 
that corresponded with that of his soul. From his tenderest years he was 
very observant, self-contained, and given to prayer. Father Martin de Va- 
lencia held very close communion with him, owing to which he saw him 
many times snatched up into an ecstasy. Sahagun was very exact in his at- 
tendance in the choir, even in his old age, he never was absent at matins. 
He was gentle, humble, courteous in his converse with all. He was 
elected secondly with the learned Father Juan de Gaona, as professor at 
Tlaltelolco in the college of Santa Cruz; where he shone like a light 
on a candlestick, for he was perfect in all the sciences. His possession 
of the Mexican language was of a perfectness that has never to this day 
being equaled; he wrote many books in it that will be mentioned in the 
catalogue of authors. He had to strive with much opposition, for to some 
it did not seem good to write out in the language of the Mexicans their 
ancient rites, lest it should give occasion for their being persevered in. He 
watched over the honor of God against idolatry, and sought earnestly to 
impress the Christian faith upon the converted. He affirmed as a minis- 
ter of much experience, that during the first twenty years [of his life in the 
province] the fervor of the natives was very great; but that afterward they 
inclined to idolatry, and became very lukewarm in the faith. This he says 
in the book of his Postillas that I have, in which I learnt much. During the 
first twenty years of his life [in the province] he was guardian of some con- 
vents; but after that he desired not to take upon himself any office or guar- 
dianship for more than forty years, so that he could occupy himself in 
pre iching, confessing, and writing. During the sixty and one years that 
he lived in the province, for the most part in college, without resting a single 
day, he instructed the boys in civilization and good customs, teaching them 
reading, writing, grammar, music, and other things in the service of God 
and the state. This went on till the year 1590, when, the approach of death 
becoming apparent to every one, he entered the hospital of Mexico; where he 
died on the 23rd of October. There assembled to his funeral the collegians, 


trailing their becas, and the natives shedding tears, and the members of the 
different religions houses giving praises to God our Lord for this holy death, 
of which the murtyrology treats, — Gonzaga, Torquemada, Deza, Rampineo, 
and many others. In the library of Senior Eguiara, in the manuscript of the 
Turriana collection, I have read the article relating to Father Sahagun; in it 
a la dogue of works that he wrote is given. " 1 remember only the fol- 

lowing: Historia General de las cosas de Nueva Espaila; Arte de gromatka 
mexkana; Diccionario trilingue de <rj>ur<ol, latin, y mexicano; Semi 

a I" ! " el ano.en mexicano, (poseo aunque sin nombre deautor); PosW- 
las 6 commentarios al evangelio, para l<ts misas solenmes de dia de preccpto; 
Historia de los primeros pobladores frandscanos en Mexico; Salmodia ae la 
vida de Cristo, <(• la virgen y de los santos, que usaban los indios, y precep- 
tos para los cnsados; Escala espiritual, que rue la primera obra que se im- 
primid en Mexico en la imprenta que trajo Hernan Cortes de Espana.' Saha- 
gun, Hist. Gen., torn. i.. pp. vii.-ix. As to the manner in which the His- 
toria General of Sahagun, 'whom,' says Prescott, Mex., vol. i., p. 67, 
'I have followed as the highest authority' in matters of Mexican re- 
ligion, —at last saw the light of publication, I give Trescott's account, 
Max., vol. i., p. 88, as exact save in one point, for which see the correction 
in brackets : — 'At length, toward the close of the last century, the indefati- 
gable Mufioz succeeded in disinterring the long lost manuscript from the 
place tradition had assigned to it, — the library of a convent at Tolosa, in Na- 
varre, the northern extremity of Spain. With his usual ardor, he transcribed 
the whole work with his own hands, and added it to the inestimable collec- 
tion, of which, alas! he was destined not to reap the full benefit himself. 
From this transcript Lord Kingsborough was enabled to procure the copy 
which was published in 1830, in the sixth volume of his magnificent compila- 
tion. [It was published in two parts, in the fifth and seventh volumes of that 
compilation, and the exact date of the publication was 1831.] In ithe express* s 
an honest satisfaction at being the first to give Sahagun's work to the world. 
But in this supposition he was mistaken. The very year preceding, an edition 
of it, with annotations, appeared in Mexico, in three volumes 8vo. It was 
prepared by Bustamante, — a scholar to whose editorial activity his country 
is 1 irgely indebted, — from a copy of the Munoz manuscript which came into 
his possession. Thus this remarkable work, which was denied the honors 
of the press during the author's lifetime, after passing into oblivion, reap- 
peared, at the distanc! of nearly three centuries, not in his own country, but 
in foreign lands widely remote from each other, and that almost simultane- 
ously ... .Sahagun divided his history into twelve books. The first eleven 
are occupied with the social institutions of Mexico, and the last with the 
Conquest. On the religion of the country he is particularly full. His great 
object evidently was. to give a. clear view of its mythology, and of the bur- 
densome ritual which belonged to it. Religion entered so intimately into 
the most private concerns and usages of the Aztecs, that Sahagun's work 
must be a text-book for every student of their antiquities. Torquemada 
availed himself of a manuscript copy, which fell into his hands before it was 
sent to Spain, to enrich his own pages, — a circumstance more fortunate for 
his readers than for Sahagun's reputation, whose work, now that it is pub- 
lished, loses much of the originality and interest which would otherwise 
attach to it. In one respect it is invaluable; as presenting a complete col- 
lection of the various forms of prayer, accommodated to every possible emer- 
gency, in use by the Mexicans. They are often clothed in dignified and 
beautiful language, showing that sublime speculative tenets are quite com- 
patible with the most degrading practices of superstition. It is much to be 
regretted that we have not the eighteen hymns, inserted by the author in his 
book, which would have particular interest, as the only specimen of devo- 
tional poetry preserved of the Aztecs. The hieroglyphical paintings, which 
accompanied the text are also missing. If they have escaped the hands of 
fanaticism, both may reappear at some future day.' As may have b 
noticed, the editions of Sahagun by both Bustamante and Kingsborough have 
been constantly used together and collated during the course of this present 


work. They differ, especially in many minor points of typography, Busta- 
mante' s being the more carelessly edited in this respect. Notwithstanding, 
however, the opinion to the contrary of Mr Harrisse, Bustamante's edition 
is on the whole the more complete; Kingsborough having avowedly omitted 
divers parts of the original which he thought unimportant or uninteresting, 
— a fault also of Bustamante's, but to a It sser extent. Fortunately what is 
absent in the one I have always found in the other; and indeed, as a whole, 
and all circumstances being considered, they agree tolerably well. The crit- 
icism of Mr Harrisse, just referred to, runs as follows, Bib. Am. Vet., p. 208, 
note 52: ' Historia General de lasCosas de Nueva Espana; Mexico, 3 vols., 4to, 
1829 (edited and castrated by Bustamente [Bustamante] in such a manner as 
to require for a perfect understanding of that dry but important work, the 
reading of the parts also published in vols. v. and vi. [v. and vii.], of Kings- 
borough's Antiquities.)' We are not yet done, however, with editions of Saha- 
gun. A third edition of part of his work has seen the light. It is Bustamante 
himself that attempts to supersede a part of his first edition. He affirms, that 
book xii. of that first edition of his, as of course also book xii. of Kingsborough 's 
edition, is spurious and has been garbled and glossed by Spanish hands 
quite away from the original as written by Sahagun. Exactly how or when 
this corruption took place he does not show; but he leaves it to be inferred 
that it was immediately after the original manuscript had been taken from 
its author, and that it was done because that twelfth book, which treats more 
immediately of the Conquest, reflected too hardly on the Conquerors. Bus- 
tamante having procured, in a manner now to be given in his own words, a 
correct and genuine copy of the twelfth book, a copy written and signed 
by the hand of Sahagun himself, proceeded in 1840 to give it to the world 
under the extraordinary title of La Aparicion de Nuestra Senora de 'ii"" : : 
de Mexico, comprobada con la refutation del argumento negaiivo que presenta D. 
Juan Bautista Munoz, fundandose en <-I testimonio del P. Fr. Bernardino SaJia- 
gunj 6 sea, Historia Original de este Escritor, que altera la publicadaen 18.9 en 
el equivocado concepto </■ ser hi unica y original del dicho autor. All of which 
means to say that he, Bustamante, having already published in 1829-30, a 
complete edition of Sahagun's Historia General, in twelve bonks, according 
to the best manuscript he could then find, has found the twelfth book of that 
history to be not genuine, has found the genuine original of said twelbh 
b i ik, and now, in i840, publishes said genuine twelfth book under the al ove 
extraordinary name, inasmuch as it contains some reference to what is 
supposed to be uppermost in every religious Mexican's mind, to wit. the 
miraculous appearance of the Blessed Virgin to a certain native Mexican, 
la aparicion de nuestra Senora de Guadalupe de Mexico. Bustamante's own 
sount of all the foregoing, being translated from the above-mentioned Nra. 
Senora da Guadalupe, pp. i\\, viii., xxiii , runs as follows: 'As he [Sahi gun J 
wrote with the frankness proper to truth, and as this was notpleasing to the 
heads of the then government, nor even to some of his brother friars, he was 
despoiled of his writings. These were sent to Spain, and ordered to be stored 
away in the archives of the convent of San Francisco de Tolosa de Navarra, 
so that no one should ever be able to read them; there they lay hid for more 
than two centuries. During the reign of Carlos hi., Senor Munoz was com- 
missioned to write the history of the New World. But he found himself 
without this work [of Sahagun's] so necessary to his purpose; and he was 
ignorant of its whereabouts, till, reading the index of the Biblioteca Francis- 
cana he came to know about it, and, furnished by the government with all 
powers, he took it out of the said monastery. Colonel D. Diego (bare a 
Panes having come to Madrid at the same time, to publish the works of Senor 
Veytia, this gentleman contracted a friendship with Munoz who allowed him 
to copy the two thick volumes in which Sahagun's work was written. 
These two volumes, then, that Colonel Panes had copied, were what was la ,'1 
to be solely the work of Father Sahagun, and as such esteemed: still it docs 
not appear to be proved by attestation that this was the author's original au- 
to;ir try. Had it been so, the circumstance would hardly have been 

left without definite mention, when the relation was given of the way in 


wliich tlie book was got hold of, and when the guarantee of the exactness of 
the copy was procured. I, to-day, possess an original manuscript, written 
altogether and signed by the hand of Father Sahagun; in which is to be 
noted an essential variation in certain of the chapters which I now present, 
from those that I before published in the twelfth book of his Historia Gene- 
ral; which is the book treating of the Conquest. Sahagun wrote this manu- 
script in the year 1585, that is to say, five years before his death, and he 
wrote it without doubt under a presentiment of the alterations that his work 
would suffer. He had already made alterations therein himself, since he 
confesses ( they are his words) that certain defects existed in them, that certain 
things had been put into the narrative of that Conquest that should not have 
been put there, while other things were left out that should not have been 
omitted. Therefore [says Bustamante], this autograph manuscript discovers 
the alterations that his writings underwent and gives us good reason to doubt 
the authenticity and exactness of the text seen by Munoz. . . .During the re- 
volution of Madrid, in May, 1808, caused by the entrance of the French and 
the removal of the royal family to Bayonne, the office of the secretary of the 
Academy of History was robbed, and from it were taken various bundles of 
the works of Father Sahagun. These an old lawyer of the court bought, and 
among them one entitled: Rilacion de la conquista de esta Nueva Espana, como 
la contaron los soldados indios que se hallaron presentes. Conveiiiose enlengua 
espaiiola Nana e intelijgible y bien enmendada en este ano de 1585. Unfortu- 
nately there had only remained [of the Relation, etc., (?)] a single volume 
of manuscript, which Sefior D. Jose Gomez de la Cortina, ex-count of that 
title, bought, giving therefor the sum of a hundred dollars. He allowed 
me the use of it, and I have made an exact copy of it, adding notes 
for the better understanding of the Conquest; the before-mentioned 
1) ting altogether written, as I have said, and signed by the hands of 
Father Sahagun. This portion, which the said ex-count has certified to, 
induces us to believe that the other works of Sahagun, relating both to 
the Conquest and to the Aparicion Guadalupana have been adulterated 
because they did little honor to the first Conquerors. That they have at 
all come to be discussed with posterity, has been because a knowledge of 
them was generally scattered, and in such a way that it was no longer possi- 
ble to keep them hidden; or, perhaps, because the faction interested in their 
concealment had disappeared. In proof of the authenticity and identity of 
tills manuscript, we refer to Father Betancur in his Chronicle of the pro- 
vince of the Santo Evangelio de Mexico, making a catalogue of the illustri- 
ous men thereof; speaking of Sahagun, he says on page 138: "The ninth 
book that this writer composed was the Conquest of Mexico by Cortes; 
which book afterward, in the year 1585, he re-wrote and emended; the 
[ emended] original of this I saw signed with his hand in the possssion of Sefior 
D. Juan Francisco de Montemayor, president of the Royal Audiencia, who 
carried it to Spain with the intention of having it printed; and of this I have 
a translation wherein it is said that the Marquis of Yilla-Manrique, viceroy 
of Mexico, took from him [Sahagun] the twelve books and sent them to his 
majesty for the royal chronicler." ' Bustamante lastly gives a certificate of 
the authenticity of the manuscript under discussion and published by him. 
The certificate is signed by Jose Gomez de la Cortina, and runs as follows: 
' Mexico, 1st April, 1840. I certify that, being in Madrid in the year 1828, I 
bought from D. Lorenzo Ruiz de Artieda, through the agency of my friend 
and companion, D. Jose Musso Yaliente, member of the Spanish Academies 
of language and of history, the original manuscript of Father Sahagun, of 
which mention is made in this work by his Excellency Sefior D. Carlos Maria 
Bustamante, as constated by the receipts of the seller, and by other docu- 
m nts in my possession.' So much for Bustamante's new position as a 
reeditor of a part of Sahagun's Historia General; we have stated it in his 
own words, and in those of his own witnesses as brought forward by him. The 
changes referred to do not involve any matter bearing on mythology; it may 
be not out of place to say however, that the evidence in favor of Bustamante's 
new views seems strong and truth-like. 



Image of Tezcatlipoca — His Seats at the Street-corners — Various 
Legends about his Life on Earth — Quetzalcoatl — His Dexterity in 
the Mechanical Arts — His Religious Observances — The Wealth 
and nlmbleness of his adherents — expulsion from tulla of quet- 
zalcoatl by Tezcatlipoca and Huitzilopochtli — The Magic Draught 
— huemac, or vemac, klng of the toltecs, and the misfortunes 
brought upon him and his people by tezcatlipoca in various 


Birth and Life of Quetzalcoatl — His Gentle Character — He drew 
up the Mexican Calendar — Incidents of his Exile and of his Jour- 
ney to Tlapalla, as related and commented upon by various writ- 
ers — Brasseur's ideas about the Quetzalcoatl Myths — Quetzalcoatl 
considered a Sun-God by Tylor, and as a Dawn-Hero by Brinton — 
Helps — Domenech — The Codices — Long Discussion of the Quetzal- 
coatl Myths by J. G. Miller. 

In the preceding chapter I have given only the loftier 
view of Tezcatlipoca' s nature, which even on this side 
cannot be illustrated without many inconsistencies. We 
pass now to relations evidencing a much meaner idea 
of his character, and showing him whom we have seen 
called invisible, almighty, and beneficent, in a new and 
much less imposing light. We pass, in fact, from the 
Zeus of Plato and Socrates to the Zeus of Hesiod and 

Let us glance first at the fashion of his representation in 
the temples, though with little hope of seeing the particular 
fitness of many of the trappings and symbols with which 
his statue was decorated. His principal image, at least 



in the city of Mexico, was cut out of a very shining black 
stone, called iztli, a variety of obsidian, — a stone valued, 
in consideration of its capabilities of cleavage, for making 
those long splinters, used as knives by the Aztecs, for 
sacrificial and other purposes. For these uses in wor- 
ship, and perhaps indeed for its manifold uses in all re- 
gards, it was surnamed teotetl, divine stone. In places 
where stone was less convenient the image was made of 
wood. The general idea intended to be given was that 
of a young man ; by which the immortality of the god 
was set forth. The ears of the idol were bright with ear- 
rings of gold and silver. Through his lower lip was 
thrust a little crystal tube, perhaps six inches long, and 
through the hollow of this tube a feather was drawn; 
sometimes a green feather, sometimes a blue, giving the 
transparent ornament the tint at one time of an eme- 
rald, at another of a turquois. The hair — carved from 
the stone, we may suppose — was drawn into a queue and 
bound with a ribbon of burnished gold, to the end of 
which ribbon, hanging down behind, was attached a 
golden ear with certain tongues of ascending smoke 
painted thereon; which smoke was intended to signify 
the prayers of those sinners and afflicted that, commend- 
ing themselves to the god, were heard by him. Upon 
his head were many plumes of red and green feathers. 
From his neck there hung down in front a great jewel of 
gold that covered all his breast. Bracelets of gold were 
upon his arms, and in his navel was set a precious green 
stone. In his left hand there Hashed a great circular 
mirror of gold, bordered like a fan with precious leathers, 
green and azure and yellow; the eyes of the god were 
ever fixed on this, for therein he saw reiiected all that 
was done in the world. This mirror was called ithclwi, 
that is to say, the ' looker-on,' the' viewer.' Tezcatlipoca 
was sometimes seated on a bench covered with a red 
cloth, worked with the likeness of many skulls, having 
in his right hand four darts, signifying, according to some, 
that he punished sin. To the top of his feet were at- 
tached twenty bells of gold, and to his right foot the for^- 


foot of a doer, to show the exceeding swiftness of this 
deity in all his ways. Hiding the shining black body, 
was a great cloak, curiously wrought in black and whit; 1 , 
adorned with feathers, and fringed about with rosettes of 
three colors, red, white, and black. This god, whose 
decorations vary a little with different writers — varia- 
tions probably not greater than those really existing 
among the different figures representing in different 
places the same deity — had a kind of chapel built 
to hold him on the top of his temple. It was 
a dark chamber lined with rich cloths of many 
colors; and from its obscurity the image looked out, 
seated on a pedestal, with a costly canopy immediately 
overhead, and an altar in front; not apparently an 
altar of sacrifice, but a kind of ornamental table, like a 
Christian altar, covered with rich cloth. Into this holy 
of holies it was not lawful for any but a priest to enter. 

"What most of all, however, must have served to bring 
the worship of Tezcatlipoca prominently before the people, 
were the seats of stone, built at the corners of the streets, 
for the accommodation of this god when he walked in- 
visibly abroad. Mortal, born of woman, never sat there- 
on; not the king himself might dare to use them: sacred 
they were, sacred for ever, and always shadowed by a 
canopy of green boughs, reverently renewed every live 
da vs. 1 

Lower and lower we must now descend from the idea 
of an almighty god, to take up the thread of various 
legends in which Tezcatlipoca figures in an anything but 
creditable light. We have already seen him described 
as one of those hero-gods whom the new-born Sun was 
instrumental in destroying; 2 and we may suppose that 
he then ascended into heaven, for we find him after- 
ward descending thence, letting himself down by a 

1 Acosta, Hist. Nat. Ind., pp. 353-4; C'iari/<ero, Storia Ant. del Messico, torn, 
ii.. \). 7; Duran, Hist. Ant. da In Nueva Espana, MS., quoted in Squier's Notes 
to Palacw, l'<irla, note 27, pp. 117-8; Sahagun, Hist, (ren., torn, i., lib. iii.. p. 
242; Explication del Codex Telleriano-Remensis, lam. ii. and xxvi., in Kings- 
borough's Mex. Antiq., vol. v., pp. 132, 144-5; Spiegazione delle Tavole del Codice 
Mexicano, t;iv. xlii., xlix.,in Kingsborough's Mex. Antiq., vol. v., pp. 185, I 

2 See this volume p. 02. 


rope twined from spider's web. Rambling through the 
world he came to a place called Tulla, where a certain 
Quetzalcoatl — another, according to Sahagun, of the hero- 
gods just referred to — had been ruling for many years. 
The two engaged in a game of ball, in the course of 
which Tezcatlipoca suddenly transformed himself into a 
tiger, occasioning thereby a tremendous panic among the 
spectators, many of whom in the haste of their flight 
precipitated themselves down a ravine in the neighbor- 
hood into a river and were drowned. Tezcatlipoca then 
began to persecute Quetzalcoatl from city to city till he 
drove him to Cholula. Here Quetzalcoatl was held as 
chief god, and here for some time he was safe. But only 
for a few years ; his indefatigable and powerful enemy 
forced him to retreat with a few of his adherents toward 
the sea, to a place called Tlillapa or Tizapan. Here the 
hunted Quetzalcoatl died, and his followers inaugurated 
the custom of burning the dead by burning his body. 3 

The foregoing, from Mendieta, gives us a glimpse, from 
one point of view, of that great personage Quetzalcoatl, 
of whom we shall know much more anon, and whom in 
the meantime we meet again and again as the opponent, 
or rather victim of Tezcatlipoca. Let us consider Saha- 
gun' s version of the incidents of this strife: — 

Quetzalcoatl was, from very ancient times, adored as a 
god in Tulla. He had a very high cu* there, with many- 
steps up to it, steps so narrow that there was not room 
for a whole foot on any of them. His image was always 
in a recumbent position and covered with blankets. 
The face of it was very ughy, the head large and fur- 
nished with a long beard. The adherents of this god were 
all devoted to the mechanical arts, dexterous in working 
the green stone called chalchiuite, and in founding the 
precious metals ; all of which arts had their beginning and 
origin with the said Quetzalcoatl. He had whole houses 
made of chalchiuites, others made of silver, others 1 of 
white and red shells, others of planks, others of turquoises, 

3 Mendieta, Hist. Ecles., p. 82. 

4 Temple; see this vol., p. 19 J. note 26. 


and others of rich feathers. His adherents were very 
light of loot and swift in going whither they wished, 
an I the j were called llanquacemilhiyme. There is a 
mountain called Tzatzitepetl on which Quetzalcoatl used 
to have a crier, and the people afar off and scattered, 
and the people of Anahuac, a hundred leagues distant, 
heard and understood at once whatever the said Quet- 
zalcoatl commanded. And Quetzalcoatl was very rich ; 
he had all that was needful both to eat and to drink ; maize 
was abundant, and a head of it was as much as a man could 
carry clasped in his arms; pumpkins measured a fathom 
round ; the stalks of the wild amarinth were so large and 
thick that people climbed them like trees. Cotton was 
sowed and gathered in of all colors, red, scarlet, yellow, vio- 
let, whitish, green, blue, blackish, grey, orange, mid tawny ; 
these colors in the cotton were natural to it, thus it grew. 
Further it is said that in that city of Tulla, there 
abounded many sorts of birds of rich and many-colored 
plumage, the xiuhtototl, the quelzaliototl, the zaquan, the 
tiauhquechol, and other birds that sang with much sweet- 
ness. And this Quetzalcoatl had all the riches of the 
world, of gold and silver, of green stones called chalchi- 
uites, and of other precious things, and a great abundance 
of cocoa-nut trees of divers colors. The vassals or ad- 
herents of Quetzalcoatl were also very rich and wanted 
for nothing; they were never hungry; they never lacked 
maize, nor ate the small ears of it, but burned them like 
wood to heat the baths. It is said lastly that Quetzal- 
coatl did penance by pricking his legs and drawing blood 
with the spines of the maguey and by washing at mid- 
night in a fountain called xicapoyaf this custom the 
priests and ministers of the Mexican idols adopted. 

There came at last a time in which the fortunes of 
Quetzalcoatl and of his people, the Toltecs, began to fail ; 
for there came against them three sorcerers, gods in dis- 
guise, to wit Tezcatlipoca, Huitzilopochtli. and Tlacavepan, 

5 Or perhaps xipacoya, as in Kmgsborougli's eel. of Sahagun, Mex.Aniiq., 
vol. vii., p. 1()8. 

Vol. III. 1G 


who wrought many deceits in Tulla. Tezcatlipoca especi- 
ally prepared a cunning trick; he turned himself into a 
hoary-headed old man/ and went to the house of Quet- 
zalcoatl, saying to the servants there, I wish to see and 
speak to your master. Then the servants said, Go away, 
old man, thou canst not see our king, for he is sick, thou 
wilt anno} 7 him and cause him heaviness. But Tezcatli- 
poca insisted, I must see him. Then the servants hid 
the sorcerer to wait, and they went in and told Quetzal- 
coatl how an old man without affirmed that he would 
see the king and would not be denied. And Quetzal- 
coatl answered. Let him come in. behold for many days I 
have waited for his coining. So Tezcatlipoca entered, 
and he said to the sick god-king, How art thou? adding 
further that he had a medicine for him to drink. Then 
Quetzalcoatl answered. Thou art welcome, old man, be- 
hold for many days I have waited for thee. And the 
old sorcerer spake again, How is thy body, and how art 
thou in health? I am exceedingly sick, said Quetzalcoatl, 
all my body is in pain, I cannot move my hands nor my 
feet. Then, answered Tezcatlipoca, behold this medicine 
that I have, it is irood and wholesome and intoxicating; 
if thou will drink it, thou shalt be intoxicated and healed 
and eased at the heart, and thou shalt have in mind the 
toils and fatigues of death and of thy departure. Where, 
cried Quetzalcoatl, have I to go? To Tullantlapallan, re- 
plied Tezcatlipoca, where there is another old man wait- 
ing for thee; he and thou shall talk together, and on thy 
return thence thou shalt be as a youth, yea. as a boy. 
And Quetzalcoatl hearing these words his heart was 
moved, while the old sorcerer, insisting more and more, 
said, Sir, drink this medicine. But the king did not wish 
to drink it. The sorcerer, however, insisted, Drink, my 
lord, or thou wilt be sorry for it hereafter; at least rub 
a little on thy brow and taste a sip. So Quetzalcoatl 
tried and tasted it, and drank, saying, What is this? it 

6 Y acordarscos h:i de los trabajos y fatigas tie la muerte, d de vuestra ida. 
Kinjsboroujk's Mex. Antiq., vol. vii., p. 109. Y acordarseos ha los trabajos y 
fatigas do la muerte, 6 de vuestra vida. Sahagun, Hist. Gen., torn, i., lib. iii., 
pp. 215-6. 


seems to be a thing very good and savory; already I 
feel myself healed and quit of mine infirmity ; already I 
am well. Then the old sorcerer said again, Drink once 
more, my lord, since it is good; so thou shall be the 
more perfectly healed. And Quetzalcoatl drank again, 
he made himself drunk, he began to weep sadly, his heart 
was eased and moved to depart, he could not rid himself 
of the thought that he must go; for this was the snare 
and deceit of Tezcatlipoca; And the medicine that Quet- 
zalcoatl drank was the white wine of the country, made 
from the magueys that are called teumetl. 

So Quetzalcoatl, whose fortunes we shall hereafter fol- 
low more particularly, set out upon his journey ; and Tez- 
catlipoca proceeded further guilefully to kill many Toltees, 
and to ally himself by marriage with Vemac, who was 
the temporal lord of the Toltees, even as Quetzalcoatl was 
the spiritual ruler of that people. To accomplish these 
things Tezcatlipoca took the appearance of a poor for- 
eigner, and presented himself naked, as was the custom 
of such people, in the market-place of Tulla, selling green 
chilly pepper. Now the palace of Vemac, the great king, 
overlooked the market-place, and he had an only daugh- 
ter, and the girl, looking by chance among the buyers 
and sellers, saw the disguised god. She was smitten 
through with love of him. and she began to sicken. 
Vemac heard of her sickness and he inquired of the 
women that guarded her as to what ailed his daughter. 
They told him as best they could, how for the love of a 
peddler of pepper, named Toveyo, the princess had lain 
down to die. The king immediately sent a crier upon 
the mountain Tzatzitepec to make this proclamation: 
Toltees, seek me out Toveyo that goes about selling 
green pepper, let him be brought before me. So the 
people sought everywhere for the handsome pepper ven- 
der; but he was nowhere to be found. Then, after they 
could not find him, he appeared of his own accord one 
day, at his old place and trade in the market. He was 
brought before the king, who said to him, Where dost 
thou belong to? and Toveyo answered, I am a foreigner 


come here to sell my green pepper. Why dost thou 
delay to cover thyself with breeches and with a blanket? 
said Vemac. Toveyo answered that in his country such 
things were not in fashion. Yemac continued, My 
daughter longs after thee, not willing to be comforted 
by any Toltec; she is sick of love and thou must heal 
her. But Toveyo replied. This thing can in no wise be, 
kill me first; I desire to die, not being worthy to hear 
these words, who get my living by selling green pepper. 
I tell thee, said the king, that thou must heal my daugh- 
ter of this her sickness ; fear not. Then they took the 
canning god, and washed him, and cut his hair, and dyed 
all his body, and put breeches on him and a blanket; 
and the king Yemac said, Get thee in and see my daugh- 
ter, there where they guard her. Then the young man 
went in and he remained with the princess and she be- 
came sound and well ; thus Toveyo became the son-in- 
law of the king of Tulla. 

Then behold all the Toltecs being fdled with jealousy 
and offended, spake injurious and insulting words against 
king Vemac, saying among themselves. Of all the Toltecs 
can there not to be found a man, that this Yemac marries 
Ills daughter to a peddler? Xow when the king heard 
all the injurious and insulting words that the people 
spake against him, he was moved, and he spoke to the 
people saying, Come hither, behold I have heard all 
these things that ye say against me in the matter of my 
son-in-law Toveyo; dissimulate then; take him deceit- 
fully with you to the war of Cacatepec and Coatepec, 
let the enemy kill him there. Having heard these words 
the Toltecs armed themselves, and collected a multitude, 
and went to the war, bringing Toveyo along. Arrived 
where the fighting was to take place, they hid him with 
[lie lame and the dwarfs, charging them, as the custom 
was in such cases, to watch for the enemy, while the 
soldiers went on to the attack. The battle began; the 
Toltecs at once gave way; treacherously and guilefully 
deserting Toveyo and the cripples, leaving them to he 
slaughtered at their post, they returned to Tulla and told 


the king how they had left Toveyo and his companions 
alone in the hands of the enemy. When the king heard 
the treason he was glad, thinking Toveyo dead, for he 
was ashamed of having him for a son-in-law. Affairs 
had gone otherwise, however, with Toveyo from what 
the plotters supposed. On the approach of the hostile 
army he consoled his deformed companions, saying, Fear 
nothing; the enemy come against us. but I know that 1 
shall kill them all. Then he rose up and went forward 
against them, against the men of Coatepec and Cacatepec; 
he put them to flight and slew of them without number. 
When this came to the ears of Vemac, it weighed upon 
and terrified him exceedingly. lie said to his Toltecs, 
Let us now go and receive my son-in-law. So they all 
went out with king Vemac to receive Toveyo. bearing 
the arms or devises called qiietzalapaneeayutl, and the 
shields called xiuchimali. They gave these things to 
Toveyo, and he and his comrades received them with 
dancing and the music of flutes, with triumph and re- 
joicing. Furthermore, on reaching the palace of the king, 
plumes were put upon the heads of the conquerors, and 
all the body of each of them was stained yellow, and all 
the face red; this was the customary reward of those 
that came back victorious from war. And king 
Vemac said to his son-in-law, I am now satisfied with 
what thou hast done and the Toltecs are satisfied; thou 
hast dealt very well with our enemies, rest and take thine 
ease. But Toveyo held his peace. 

And after this. Toveyo adorned all his body with the 
rich feathers called tocivitl, and commanded the Toltecs 
to gather together for a festival, and sent a crier up to 
the top of the mountain, Tzatzitepec, to call in the 
strangers and the people afar off to dance and to feast. 
A numberless multitude gathered to Tulla. When they 
were all gathered Toveyo led them out, young men and 
girls, to a place called Texcalapa, where he himself began 
and led the dancing, playing on a drum. He sang too. 
singing each verse to the dancers, who sang it after him, 
though they knew not the song before hand. Then was 


to be seen there a marvelous and terrible thing. From 
sunset till midnight the heat of the countless feet grew 
faster and faster; the tap. tap. tap of the drum closed 
up and poured into a continual roll ; the monotonous 
song rose higher, wilder, till it burst into a roar. The 
multitude became a mob, the revel a riot; the people be- 
gan to press upon and hustle each other; the riot became 
a panic. There was a fearful gorge or ravine there, with 
a, river rushing through it called the Texcaltlauhco ; a 
stone bridge led over the river. Toveyo broke down 
this bridge as the people tied: grim corypheus of this 
fearful revel, he saw them tread and crush each other 
vn. under-foot, and over into the abyss. They that 
fell were turned into rocks and stones; as for them that 
escaped, they did not see nor think that it was Toveyo 
and his sorceries had wrought this great destruction; 

~ i 7 

they were blinded by the witchcraft of the god, and out 
of their senses like drunken men. 

Far from being satisfied with the slaughter at Texca- 
lapa, Tezcatlipoca proceeded to hatch further evil against 
the Toltecs. He took the appearance of a certain val- 
iant man called Teguioa, and commanded a crier to sum- 
mon all the inhabitants of Tulla and its neighborhood 
to come and help at a certain piece of work in a certain 
flower-garden (said to have been a garden belonging to 
Quetzalcoatl.). All the people gathered to the work, 
whereupon the disguised god fell upon them, knocking 
them on the head with a <:<><i: Those that escaped the 
coa were trodden down and killed by their fellows in 
attempting to escape ; a countless number was slain ; every 
man that had come to the work was left lying dead 
among the trodden flowers. 

And after this Tezcatlipoca wrought another Avitch- 
craft against the Toltecs. He called himself Tlacave- 
pan, or Acexcoch, and came and sat down in the midst 
of the market-place of Tulla. having a little manikin (said 

7 Hoe of burnt wood. ' Coa\ palo tostado, empleado por los indios para 
labrar la tierra, ;i manera de hazada. (Lengua de Cuba.)' Voces Americanas 
adas Por Ovkdo, appended to Oi '>•/. Gen., torn, iv., p. 596. 


to have been Iluitzilopochtli) dancing upon his hand. 
There was an instant uproar of all the buyers and 
sellers and a rush to see the miracle. The people crushed 
and trod each other down, so that many were killed there; 
and all this happened many times. At last the god- 
sorcerer cried out, on one such occasion, What is this? 
do you not see that you are befooled by us? stone and 
kill us. So the people took up stones and killed the 
said sorcerer and his little dancing manikin. But when 
the body of the sorcerer had lain in the market-place for 
some time it began to stink and to taint the air, and the 
wind of it poisoned many. Then the dead sorcerer spake 
again, saying, Cast this body outside the town, for many 
Toltecs die because of it. So they prepared to cast out the 
body, and fastened ropes thereto and pulled. But the 
talkative and ill-smelling corpse was so heavy that they 
could not move it. Then a crier made a proclamation, 
saying, Come all ye Toltecs, and bring ropes with you, that 
we may drag out and get rid of this pestilential carcass. 
All came accordingly, bringing ropes, and the ropes were 
fastened to the body, and all pulled. It was utterly in 
vain. Rope after rope broke with a sudden snap, and 
those that dragged on a rope fell and were killed when it 
broke. Then the dead wizard looked up and said, 
Toltecs, a verse of a song is needed ; and he himself gave 
them a verse. They repeated the verse after him, and, 
singing it, pulled all together, so that with shouts they 
hauled the body out of the city ; though still not without 
many ropes breaking and many persons being killed as 
before. All this being over, those Toltecs that remained 
unhurt returned every man to his place, not remember- 
ing anything of what had happened, for they were all as 

Other signs and wonders were wrought by Tezcatli- 
poca in his rule of sorcerer. A white bird called Yz- 
taccuixtli, was clearly seen flying over Tulla, transfixed 
with a dart. At night also, the sierra called Zacatepec 
burned, and the flames were seen from far. All the 
people were stirred up and affrighted, saying one to an- 


other, Toltecs, it is all over with us now; the time of 
the end of Tulla is come; alas for us, whither shall we 

Then Tezcatlipoea wrought another evil upon the Tol- 
tecs: he rained down stones upon them. There fell also, 
at the same time, a great stone from heaven called tecli- 
catl) and when it fell the god-sorcerer took the appear- 
ance of an old woman, and went about selling little ban- 
ners in a place called Chapultepecuitlapilco. otherwise 
named Yetzinco. Many then became mad and bought 
of these banners and went to the place where was the 
stone Techcatl. and there got themselves killed ; and no 
one was found to say so much as, What is this that hap- 
pens to us? they were all mad. 

Another woe Tezcatlipoea brought upon the Toltecs. 
All their victuals suddenly became sour, and no one was 
able to eat of them. The old woman, above mentioned, 
took up then her abode in a place called Xochitla, and 
began to roast maize ; and the odor of the roasted maize 
reached all the cities round about. The starving people 
set out immediately, and with one accord, to go where the 
old woman was. They reached her instantly, for here it 
may be again said, that the Toltecs were exceedingly 
light of foot, and arrived always immediately whitherso- 
ever they wished to go. As for the Toltecs that gathered 
to the sham sorceress, not one of them escaped, she killed 
them every one. 9 

Turning, without remark for the present, from Tezcat- 
lipoea, of whose life on earth the preceding farrago of 
legends is all that is known, let us take up the same 
period in the history of Quetzalcoatl. The city of Cho- 
lula was the place in which this god was most honored, 
and towards which he was supposed to be most favorably 
inclined : Cholula beinn; greatly o;iven to commerce and 

v Xochitla, garden,; see Molina Vocabulario. Perhaps that garden belong- 
ing to Quetzalcoatl, which had been already so fatal to the Toltecs. See this 
volume p. 246. 

9 Kingsborough's Mex. Antiq., vol. vii., pp. 108-13; Sahagun, Hist. Urn., 
torn, i., lib. iii.. pp. 243-55. It will be seen that in almost all point of spell- 
ing the edition of Kingsborough is followed in preference to the, in such 
points very inaccurate, edition of Bustannmte. 


handicraft, and the Cholulans considering Quetzalcoatl 
to be the god of merchandise. As Acosta tells: "In 
Cholula, which is a commonwealth of Mexico, they 
worshipt a famous idoll which was the god of marehan- 
dise, being to this day greatly given to trafficke. They 
called it Qnetzaalcoalt. This idoll was in a great place in 
a temple very hie: it had about it, golde, silver, Jewells, 
very rich feathers, and habites of divers colours. It 
had the forme of a man, but the visage of a little bird, 
with a red bill, and above a combe full of wartes, hav- 
ing ranches of teeth, and the tongue hanging out. It 
carried vpon the head, a pointed my ter of painted paper, 
a sithe in the hand, and many toyes of golde on the legates ; 
with a thousand other foolish inventions, whereof all 
had their significations, and they worshipt it, for that hee 
enriched wliome hee pleased, as Memnon and Plutus. \n 
trueth this name which the Choluanos gave to their god, 
was very fitte, although they vnderstood it not: they 
called it Qnetzaalcoalt, signifying colour of a rich feather, 
for such is the divell of covetousnesse." 10 

Motolinia gives the following; confused account of the 
birth as a man, the life, and the apotheosis of this god. 
The Mexican Adam, called Iztacmixcoatl by some writ- 
ers, married a second time. 11 This second wife, Chima- 
matl by name, bore him, it is said, an only son who was 
called Quetzacoatl. This son grew up a chaste and tem- 
perate man. lie originated by his preaching and prac- 
tice the custom of fasting and self-punishment ; and from 
that time many in that country began to do this pen- 
ance. He never married, nor knew any woman, but lived 
restrainedly and chastely all his days. The custom of 
sacrificing the ears and the tongue, by drawing blood 
from these members, was also introduced by him: not 
for the service of the devil but in penitence for the sins 
of his speech and his hearing: it is true that afterward 
the demon misappropriated these rites to his own use 
and worship. A man called Chichimecatl fastened a 

i" Acosta,, Hist. Nat. huh, p. 354. 

11 As to the first wife and her family see tliis vol. p. GO. 


leather strap on the arm of Quetzalcoatl, fixing it high 
up near the shoulder; Chichimecatl was from that time 
called Acolhuatl, and from him, it is said, are descended 
those of Colhua, ancestors of Montezuma and lords of 
Mexico and Coluacan. This Quetzalcoatl is now held 
as a deity and called the god of the air; everywhere an 
infinite number of temples has been raised to him, and 
everywhere his statue or picture is found. 12 

According to the account of Mendieta, tradition varied 
much as to the facts of the life of Quetzalcoatl. Some 
said he was the son of Camaxtli, god of hunting and 
fishing, and of Camaxtli' s wife Chimalma. Others make 
mention only of the name of Chimalma. saying that as she 
was sweeping one day she found a small green stone 
called chalchiuite, that she picked it up, became miracu- 
lously pregnant, and gave birth to the said Quetzalcoatl. 
This god was worshiped as a principal deity in Cholula, 
where, as well as in Tlaxcala and Huejotzingo, there 
were many of his temples. We have already had one 
legend from Mendieta, 13 giving an account of the expul- 
sion from Tulla and death of Quetzalcoatl; the following 
from the same source gives a different and more usual 
version of the said expulsion: — 

Quetzalcoatl came from the parts of Yucatan (although 
some said from Tulla) to the city of Cholula. He was 
a white man. of portly person, broad brow, great eyes, 
lone: black hair, and lame round beard; of exceedingly 
chaste and quiet life, and of great moderation in all 
things. The people had at least three reasons for the 
great love, reverence, and devotion with which they re- 
garded him: first, he taught the silversmith's art, a craft 
the Cholulans greatly prided themselves on: second, he 
desired no sacrifice of the blood of men or animals, but 
delighted only in offerings of bread, roses and other 
flowers, of perfumes and sweet odors; third, he pro- 
hibited and forbade all war and violence. ]S T or were 
these qualities esteemed only in the city r of his chiefest 

12 Mbtolinia, Hist, lndios, in Icazbalceta, Col., torn, i., pp. 10-11. 

13 See tins vol., p. 240. 


labors and teachings; from all the land came pilgrims 
and devotees to the shrine of the gentle god. Even 
the enemies of Cholula came and went secure, in fulfill- 
ing their vows; and the lords of distant lands had in 
Cholula their chapels and idols to the common object of 
devotion and esteem. And only Qnetzalcoatl among all 
the gods was preeminently called Lord; in such sort, that 
when any one swore, saying, By Our Lord, he meant 
Qnetzalcoatl and no other; though there were many 
other highly esteemed gods. For indeed the service of 
this god was gentle, neither did he demand hard tilings, 
but light; and he taught only virtue, abhorring all evil 
and hurt. Twenty years this good deity remained in 
Cholula, then he passed away by the road he had come, 
carrying with him four of the principal and most virtu- 
ous youths of that city. He journeyed for a hundred 
and fifty leagues, till he came to the sea, in a distant 
province called Goatzacoalco. Here he took leave of 
his companions and sent them back to their city, in- 
structing them to tell their fellow citizens that a day 
should come in which white men would land upon their 
coasts, by way of the sea in which the sun rises; 
brethren of his and having beards like his; and that 
they should rule that land. The Mexicans always waited 
for the accomplishment of this prophecy, and when the 
Spaniards came they took them for the descendants of 
their meek and gentle prophet, although, as Mendieta re- 
marks with some sarcasm, when the}' came to know them 
and to experience their works, they thought otherwise. 

Qnetzalcoatl is further reported by Mendieta to have 
assisted in drawing up and arranging the Mexican Calen- 
dar, a sacred book of thirteen tables, in which the reli- 
gious rites and ceremonies proper to each day were set 
forth, in connection with the appropriate signs. It is 
said that the gods having created mankind, bethought 
themselves that it would be well if the people they had 
made had some writings by which they might direct 
themselves. Now there were, in a certain cave at Cuer- 
navaca, two personages of the number of the gods, and 


they were man and wife, he Oxomoco and she Cipac- 
tonal ; and they were consulting together. It appeared 
good to the old woman that her descendant Quetzal- 
coatl should be consulted. The Cholulan god thought 
the thing of the calendar to be good and reasonable ; so 
the three set to work. To the old woman was respect- 
fully allotted the privilege of choosing and writing the 
first sign; she painted a kind of water-serpent called 
cipactlij and called the sign Ce Cvpactli, that is " a ser- 
pent.'' Oxomoco, in his turn wrote " two canes," and 
then Quetzalcoatl wrote "three houses;"' and so they 
went on till the whole thirteen signs of each table were 
written out in their order. 14 

Let us now take up again the narrative of Sahagun. at 
the point where Quetzalcoatl, after drinking the potion 
prepared by Tezcatlipoca, prepares to set off upon his 
journey. Quetzalcoatl, very heavy in heart for all the 
misfortunes that this rival god was bringing upon the 
Toltecs, burned his beautiful houses of silver and of shell, 
and ordered other precious things to be buried in the 
mountains and ravines. He turned the cocoa-nut trees 
into a kind of trees that are called mizquitl] he com- 
manded all the birds of rich plumage, the quetzaltototl, 
and the xiuhtotl, and the tlauquechol, to fly away and 
go into Anahuac, a hundred leagues distant, Then he 
himself set out upon his road from Tulla; he traveled on 
till he came to a place called Quauhtitlan, where was a 
great tree, high and very thick. Here the exile rested, 
and he asked his servants for a mirror, and looked 
at his own face. What thoughts soever were working 
in his heart, he only said, I am already old. Then lie 
named that place Yevequauhtitlan, and he took up stones 
and stoned the great tree ; and all the stones he threw 
sank into it, and were for a long time to be seen sticking 
there, from the ground even up to the topmost branches. 
Continuing his journey, having flute-players playing 
before him, he came to a place on the road where he 
was weary and sat down on a stone to rest. And looking 

14 Mmdieta, Hist. Ecles., pp. 82, 86, 92-3, 97-8. 


toward Tulla, he wept bitterly. His tears marked and 
ate into the stone on which he sat, and the print of his 
hands, and of his back parts, was also found therein 
when he resumed his journey. He called that place 
Temacpalco. After that he reached a very great and 
wide river, and he commanded a stone bridge to be 
thrown across it; on that bridge he crossed the river, 
and he named the place Tepanoaya. Going on upon 
his way, Quetzalcoatl came to another place, where cer- 
tain sorcerers met and tried to stop him, saving. Whither 
goest thou? why dost thou leave thy city? to whose care 
wilt thou commend it ? who will do penance ? Quetzalcoatl 
replied to the said sorcerers, Ye can in no wise hinder 
my going, for I must go. They asked him further, 
Whither goest thou? He said, To Tlapalla. They con- 
tinued, But to what end goest thou? He said, I am 
called and the sun calls me. So the sorcerers said. Go 
then, but leave behind all the mechanical arts, the melt- 
ing of silver, the working of precious stones and of ma- 
sonry, the painting, feather-working, and other crafts. 
And of all these the sorcerers despoiled Quetzalcoatl. As 
for him, he cast into a fountain all the rich jewels that 
he had with him ; and that fountain was called Cohcaa- 
pa, and it is so named to this day. 

Quetzalcoatl continued his journey; and there came 
another sorcerer to meet him, saying, Whither goest thou ? 
Quetzalcoatl said, To Tlapalla. The wizard said, Very 
well; but drink this wine that I have. The traveler 
answered, No: I cannot drink it; I cannot so much as 
taste it. Thou must drink, said the grim magician, were 
it but a drop; for to none of the living can I give it; it 
intoxicates all, so drink. Then Quetzalcoatl took the 
wine and drank it through a cane. Drinking, he made 
himself drunk ; he slept upon the road ; he began to snore ; 
and when he awoke, he looked on one side and on the 
oilier, and tore his hair with his hands. And that place 
was ('ailed Cochtoca. 

Quetzalcoatl going on upon his way and passing be- 
tween the sierra of the volcano and the snowy sierra, ail 


his servants, being hump-backed and dwarfs, died of cold 
in the pass between tbe said mountains. And Quet- 
zaleoatl bewailed their death bitterly and sang with 
weeping and sighing. Then he saw the other snowy 
sierra, which is called Povauhtecatl and is near Teca- 

7 •/ 

machalco ; and so he passed by all the cities and places, 
leaving many signs, it is said, in all the mountains and 
roads. It is said further that he had a way of crossing 
the sierras whereby he amused and rested himself at the 
same time: when he came to the top of a mountain he 
used to sit down, and so seated, let himself slide down 
the mountain-side to the bottom. In one place he built 
a court lor ball-play, all of squared stone, and here he 
used to play the game called tlachtli?* Through the midst 
of this court he drew a line called the telcotl; and where 
that line was made the mountain is now opened with a 
deep gash. In another place he cast a dart at a great 
tree called a pochutl, piercing it through with the dart 
in such wise that the tree looked like a cross; for the 
dart he threw was itself a tree of the same kind. 17 Some 
say that Quetzalcoatl built certain subterranean houses, 
called mictlancalco ; and further, that he set up and bal- 
anced a great stone, so that one could move it with one's 
little finger, yet a multitude could not displace it. Many 
other notable things remain that Quetzalcoatl did among 
many peoples; he it was that named all the places and 
woods and mountains. Traveling ever onward, he came 
at last to the sea-shore, and there commanded a raft to 
be made of the snakes called coathpeclitU. Having seated 
himself on this raft as in a canoe, he put out to sea, and 
no man knows how he got to Tlapallan. 18 

Torquemada gives a long and valuable account of 
Quetzalcoatl, gathered from man}* sources, which cannot 
be overlooked. It runs much as follows: — The name 

i'» See this vol. p. 243. _ i 

ig Tlachtli, juego de pelota con las nalgas; el lugar donde jnegan assi. 
JL f < liin. Vocabulario. 

17 This last clause is to be found only in Bustamante's ed.; see Sahagun, 
//.'./. Gen., torn, i., lib. iii., p. 258. 

is Kin isborough's Mex. Antiq., vol. vii., pp. 114-5; Sahagun, Hist. Gen., 
tern, i., lib. iii., pp. 255-9. 


Qnctzalcoatl means Snake-plumage, or Snake that has 
plumage, — and the kind of snake referred to in this 
name, is found in the province of Xicalanco, which is 
on the frontier of the kingdom of Yucatan as one goes 
thence to Tabasco. This god Quetzalcoatl was very cele- 
brated among the people of the city of Cholula, and held 
in that place for the greatest of all. He was, according 
to credible histories, high priest in the city of Tulla. 
From that place he went to Cholula, and not, as Bishop 
Bartolome de las Casas says in his Apologia, to Yucatan; 
though he went to Yucatan afterwards, as we shall see. 
It is said of Quetzalcoatl that he was a white man, large 
bodied, broad-browed, great-eyed, with long black hair, 
and a beard heavy and rounded. 19 He was a great arti- 
ficer, and very ingenious. He taught many mechanical 
arts, especially the art of working the precious stones 
called chalchiuites, which are a kind of green stone 
highly valued, and the art of casting silver and gold. 
The people, seeing him so inventive, held him in great 
estimation, and reverenced him as king in that city; and 
so it came about that, though in temporal things the 
ruler of Tulla was a lord named Huemac, 20 yet in all 
spiritual and ecclesiastical matters Quetzalcoatl was su- 
preme, and as it were chief pontiff. 

It is feigned by those that seek to make much of their 
god that he had certain palaces made of green stone like 
emeralds, others made of silver, others of shells, red and 
white, others of all kinds of wood, others of turquoise, 
and others of precious feathers. He is said to have been 
very rich, and in need of nothing. His vassals were 
very obedient to him, and very light of foot; they were 
called tlanquacemilhuique. When they wished to pub- 
lish an} 7 command of Quetzalcoatl, they sent a crier up 
upon a high mountain called Tzatzitepec, where with a 
loud voice he proclaimed the order; and the voice of 
this crier was heard for a hundred leagues distance, and 

i9 ' Era Hombre bianco, crecido de cuerpo, ancha la frente, los ojos gran- 
d i, los cabellos largos, y negros, la barba grande y redonda.' Torqm mada, 
Mjnarq. hid., torn. ii.. p, 

Sp< 11 id Vemac by Sahagun; see preceding pages of this chapter. 


farther, even to the coasts of the sea: all this is affirmed 
for true. The fruits of the earth and the trees flourished 
there in an extraordinary degree, and sweet singing birds 
were abundant. The great pontiff inaugurated a system 
of penance, pricking his legs, and drawing blood and 
staining therewith maguey thorns. He washed also at 
midnight in a fountain called Xiuhpacoya. From all 
this, it is said, the idolatrous priests of Mexico adopted 
their similar custom. 

While Quetzalcoatl was enjoying this good fortune with 
pomp and majesty, we are told that a great magician 
called Titlacahua [Tezcatlipoca], another of the gods, 
arrived at Tulla. He took the form of an old man, and 
went in to see Quetzalcoatl, saying to him, My lord, in- 
asmuch as I know thine intent and how much thou 
desirest to set out for certain distant lands, also, because 
I know from thy servants that thou art unwell, I have 
brought thee a certain beverage, by drinking which thou 
shalt attain thine end. Thou shalt so make thy way to 
the country thou desirest, having perfect health to make 
the journey; neither shalt thou remember at all the 
fatigues and toils of life, nor how thou art mortal. 21 
Seeing all his projects thus discovered by the pretended 
old man, Quetzalcoatl questioned him, Where have 1 to 
go. Tezcatlipoca answered, That it was already deter- 
mined with the supreme gods, that he had to go to Tla- 
palla, and that the thing was inevitable, because there 
was another old man waiting for him at his destination. 
Ae Quetzalcoatl heard this, he said that it was true, and 
that he desired it much; and he took the vessel and 
drank the liquor it contained. Quetzalcoatl was thus 
easily persuaded to what Tezcatlipoca desired, because 
he wished to make himself immortal and to enjoy per- 
petual life. Having swallowed the draught lie became 
beside himself, and out of his mind, weeping sadly and 
bitterly. He determined to go to Tlapalla. He de- 
stroyed or buried all his plate and other property and 

21 This agrees ill with what is related at this point by Sahagun; see this 
vol. p. L42. 


set out. First he arrived at the place, Quauhtitlan, 
where the great tree was and where he, borrowing a 
mirror from his servants, found himself " already old." 
The name of this phice was changed by him to Huelme- 
quauhtitlan, that is to say, :: near the old tree, or the 
tree of the old man ;" and the trunk of the tree was filled 
with stones that he cast at it. After that he journeyed 
on, his people playing flutes and other instruments, till 
he came to a mountain near the city of T lalnepantla, 
two leagues from the city of Mexico, where he sat down on 
a stone and put his hands on it, leaving marks embedded 
therein that may be seen to this day. The truth of this 
thing is strongly corroborated by the inhabitants of that 
district; I myself have questioned them upon the sub- 
ject, and it has been certified to me. Furthermore we 
have it written down accurately by many worthy authors ; 
and the name of the locality is now Temacpalco, that is 
to say " in the palm of the hand." 

Journeying on to the coast and to the kingdom of Tla- 
palla, Quetzalcoatl was met by the three sorcerers, Tez- 
catlipoca and other two with him, who had already 
brought so much destruction upon Tulla. These tried 
to stop or hinder him in his journey, questioning him, 
Whither goest thou? He answered, To Tlapalla. To 
whom, they inquired, hast thou given the charge of thy 
kingdom of Tulla, and who will do penance there? But 
he said that that was no longer any affair of his and that 
he must pursue his road. And being further questioned 
as to the object of his journey, he said that he was called 
by the lord of the land to which he was going, who was 
the sun. 22 The three wizards seeing then the determi- 

22 At this part of the story Torquemada takes opportunity, parenthet- 
ically, to remark that this fable was very generally current among the 
Mexicans, and that when Father Bernardino de Sahagun was in the city of 
Xuchimilco, they asked him where Tlapalla was. Sahagun replied that he 
did not know, as indeed he did not (nor any one else — it being apparently 
wholly mythical), nor even understand their question, inasmuch as he had 
been at that time only a little while in the country — it being fifty years before 
he wrote his book [the Historia General]. Sahagun adds that tin; Mexicans 
made at that time divers trials of this kind, questioning the Christians to 
see if they knew anything of their antiquities. Torquemada, Monarq. lud., 
torn, ii., p. 50. 

Vol. III. 17 


nation of Quetzalcoatl, made no further attempt to dis- 
suade him from his purpose, but contented themselves 
with taking from him all his instruments and his 
mechanical arts, so that though he departed those 
things should not be wanting to the state. It was here 
that Quetzalcoatl threw into a fountain all the rich 
iewels that lie carried with him ; for which thing the 
fountain was called from that time Cozcaapan, that is to 
say, " The water of the strings or chains of jewels." 
The same place is now called Coaapan, that is to say, 
11 In the snake-water/ ' and very properly, because the 
word Quetzalcoatl means " feathered snake." In this 
way he journeyed on, suffering various molestations 
from those sorcerers, his enemies, till he arrived at 
Cholula where he was received (as we in another part 
say).' 23 and afterward adored as god. Having lived 
twenty years in that city he was expelled by Tezcatli- 
poca. He set out for the kingdom of Tlapalla, accom- 
panied by four virtuous youths of noble birth, and in 

23 The passage of Tarquemada referred to I condense as follows: — Cer- 
tain people came from the north by way of Panuco. These were men of 
good carriage, well-dressed in long robes of black linen, open in front, and 
without capes, cnt low at the neck, with short sleeves that did not come to 
the elbow; the same, in fact, as the natives use to this day in their dances. 
From Panuco they passed on very peaceably by degrees to Tulla, where they 
were well received by the inhabitants. The country there, however, was 
already too thicxly populated to sustain the new-comers, so these passed on 
to Cholula where they had an excellent reception. They brought with 
them as their chief and head, a personage called Quetzalcoatl, a fair and 
ruddy complexioned man, with a long beard. In Cholula these people 
remained and multiplied, and sent colonies to people Upper and Lower Miz- 
teca and the Zapotecan country; and these it is said raised the grand edifices, 
whose remains are still to be seen at Mictlan. These followers of Quetzal- 
coatl were men of great knowledge and cunning artists in all kinds of fine 
work; not so good at masonry and the use of the hammer, as in casting and 
in the engraving and setting of precious stones, and in all kinds of artistic 
sculpture, and in agriculture. Quetzalcoatl had, however, two enemies; 
Tezcatlipoca was one, and Huemac king of Tulla the other; these two had 
been most instrumental in causing him to leave Tulla. And at Cholula, 
Huemac followed him up with a great army: and Quetzalcotal, not wishing 
to engag j in any Avar, departed for another part with most part of his people 
—going, it is sdd. to a land called Onohualco, which is near the sea, and 
embraced what are now called Yucatan, Tabasco, and Campeche. Then 
when H lemac came to the place where he had thought to find Quetzalcoatl, 
and found him not, he was wrath and laid waste and destroyed all the 
country, and made himself lord over it and caused also that the people wor- 
shipped him as a god. All this he did to obscure and blot out the memory 
of Quetzalcoatl an I for the hate that he bore him. Torquemada, Monarq. 
Lid., torn, i., pp. 254-6. 


Goatzacoalco, a province distant from Cholnla toward 
the sea a hundred and fifty leagues, lie embarked for his 
destination. Parting with his disciples, he told them 
that there should surely come to them in after times, by 
way of the sea where the sun rises, certain white men 
with white beards, like him, and that these would be his 
brothers and would rule that land. 

After that the four disciples returned to Cholula, and 
told all that their master and god had prophesied when 
departing. Then the Cholulans divided their province 
into four principalities and gave the government to those 
four, and some lour of their descendants always ruled 
in like manner over these tetrarchies till the Spaniard 
came; being, however, subordinate to a central power. 

This Quetzalcoatl was god of the air, and as such had 
Ins temple, of a round shape and very magnificent, 
lie was made god of the air for the mildness and gentle- 
ness of all his ways, not liking the sharp and harsh 
measures to which the other gods were so strongly in- 
clined. It is to be said further that his life on earth 
was marked by intensely religious characteristics; not 
only was he devoted to the careful observance of all the 
old customary forms of worship, but he himself ordained 
and appointed many new rites, ceremonies, and festivals 
for the adoration of the gods; and it is held for certain 
that he made the calendar. He had priests who were 
called quequetzalcohua, that is to say " priests of the 
order of Quetzalcoatl." The memory of him was en- 
graved deeply upon the minds of the people, and it is 
said that when barren women prayed and made sacri- 
fices to him, children were given them. He was, as 
we have said, god of the winds, and the power of causing 
them to blow was attributed to him as well as the power 
of calming or causing their fury to cease. It was said 
further that he swept the road, so that the" gods called 
Tlaloques could rain: this the people imagined because 
ordinarily a month or more before the rains began there 
blew strong winds throughout all New Spain. Quetzal- 
coatl is described as having worn during life, for the 


salve of modesty, garments that reached down to the 
feet, with a blanket over all, sown with red crosses. 
The Cholnlans preserved certain green stones that had 
belonged to him, regarding them with great veneration 
and esteeming them as relics. Upon one of these was 
carved a monkey's head, very natural. In the city of 
Cholula there was to be found dedicated to him a great 
and magnificent temple, with many steps, but each step 
so narrow that there was not room for a foot on it. His 
image had a very ugly face, with a large and heavily 
bearded head. It was not set on its feet but lying 
down, and covered with blankets. This, it is said, was 
done as a memorial that he would one day return to 
reign. For reverence of his great majesty, his image 
was kept covered, and to signify his absence it was kept 
lying down, as one that sleeps, as one that lies down to 
sleep. In awaking from that sleep, he was to rise up 
and reign. The people also of Yucatan reverenced this 
god Quetzalcoatl, calling him Kukulcan, and saying that 
lie came to them from the west, that is from New Spain, 
for Yucatan is eastward therefrom. From him it is said 
the kings of Yucatan are descended, who call themselves 
Cocomes, that is to say " judges or hearers." 24 

Clavigero's account is characteristically clear and com- 
prehensible. It may be summed up as follows: — 

Among the Mexicans and other nations of Anahuac, 
Quetzalcoatl was accounted god of the air. He is said 
to have been sometime high-priest of Tulla. He is de- 
scribed as having been white, — a large, broad-browed, 
great-eyed man, with long black hair and thick beard. 
His life was rigidly temperate and exemplary, and his 
industry was directed by the profoundest wisdom. He 
amassed great treasure, and his was the invention of 
gem-cutting and of metal-casting. All things prospered 
in his time. One ear of corn was a man's load; and 
the gourds, or pumpkins, of the day Avere as tall as one's 
body. No one dyed cotton then, for it grew of all colors ; 
and all other things in like manner were perfect and 

21 Torqucmada, Monarq. Ltd., torn, ii., pp. 48-52. 


abundant. The very birds in the trees sang such songs 
as have never since been heard, and Hashed such mar- 
velous beauties in the sun as no plumage of later times 
could rival. Quetzalcoatl had his laws proclaimed from 
the top of the hill Tzatzitepec, (mountain of outcry), 
near Tulla, by a crier whose voice was audible for three 
hundred miles. 

All this, however, was put an end to, as far as Tulla 
was concerned, by Tezcatlipoca, who, moved perhaps by 
jealousy, determined to remove Quetzalcoatl. So the 
god appeared to the great teacher in the guise of an old 
man, telling' him it was the will of the gods that he be- 
take himself to Tlapalla, and administering at the same 
time a potion, the effect of which was to cause an in- 
tense longing for the said journey. Quetzalcoatl set out 
and, having performed many marvels on the way, arrived 
in Cholula. Here the inhabitants would not suffer him 
to go farther, but persuaded him to accept the govern- 
ment of their city; and he remained with them, teaching 
many useful arts, customs, and ceremonies and preach- 
ing against war and all other forms of cruel ty. Accord- 
ing to some, he at this time arranged the divisions of 
the seasons and the calendar. 

Having lived twenty years in Cholula, he left, still 
impelled by the subtle draught, to seek this imaginary 
city of Tlapalla. He was no more seen of men, some 
said one thing and some another; but, however he 
might have disappeared, he was apotheosized by the 
Toltecs of Cholula, who raised him a great mound and 
built a sanctuary upon it, A similar structure was 
erected to his honor at Tulla. From Cholula his wor- 
ship as god of the air spread over all the country; in 
Yucatan the nobles claimed descent from him. 25 

The ideas of Brasseur with regard to Quetzalcoatl have 
their roots in and must be traced back to the very first 
appearing of the Mexican religion, or of the religion or 
religions by which it was preceded; so that to arrive at 
those ideas I must give a summary of the abbes whole 

23 Cktvigero, Hist. Ant. del Messico, pp. 11-13. 


theory of the origin of that creed. He believes that in 
the seething and thundering of volcanoes a conception 
of divinity and of supernatural powers first sprang up in 
the mind of the ancestors of the Mexicans. The volca- 
noes were afterwards identified with the stars, and the 
most terrific of all, Nanahuatl or Nanahuatzin, 26 received 
the honors of apotheosis 'in the sun. Issued from the 
earth of the Crescent (Brasseur's sunken island or con- 
tinent in the Atlantic), 27 personified in the antique 
Quetzalcoatl, prototype of priests and of sacerdotal con- 
tinence, he is thus his son and identifies himself with 
him; he (the divinity, Ty lor' s " Great Somebody") is 
the model of sages under the name of Hueman and 
the prototype of kings under that of Topiltzin. Strange 
thing to find united in one being, personalities so diverse ! 
King, philosopher, priest par excellence, whose virtues 
serve as a rule to all the priests of the pagan antiquity, 
and, side by side with all that, incontinence and passion 
deified in this invalid, whose name even, " the syphili- 
tic," is the expression of the abuse he has made of the 

At the commencement of the religion two sects appear 
to have sprung up, or rather two manners of judging the 
same events. There was first a struggle, and then a 
separation; under the banner-names of Quetzalcoatl and 
Tezcatlipoca the rival schools fought for the most part — 
of course there were divers minor factions; but the 
foregoing were the principal and most important. There 
is every reason to believe that the religion that took 
Quetzalcoatl for symbol was but a reformation upon 
another more ancient, that had the moon for its object. 
It is the moon, male and female, Luna Limits, personi- 
fied in the earth of the Crescent, engulfed in the abyss, 
that I believe (it is always the abbe that speaks) I see 
at the commencement of the amalgam of rites and sym- 
bols of every kind, religion of enjoyments and material 
pleasures, born of the promiscuity of the men and 

2G See p. (10 of this volume. 
27 See p. 112 of this volume. 


women, taken refuge in the lesser Antilles after the cata- 

The religion that had taken the moon for point of 
departure, and in which women seem to have played the 
principal role, as priestesses, attacked formally, by this 
very fact, a more antique religion, a pre-diluvian relig- 
ion that appears to have been Sabaism, entirely exempt 
from idolatry, and in which the sun received the chief 
homage. In the new religion, on the contrary, it was 
not the moon as a star, which was the real object of 
worship, it was the moon-land (lune-terre), it was the 
region of the Crescent, shrouded under the waves, whose 
death was wept and whose resurrection was afterward 
celebrated in the appearance of the isles — refuge of the 
shipwrecked of the grand catastrophe — of the Lesser 
Antilles; to the number of seven principal islands, sung, 
in all American legends, as the Seven Grottoes, cradle of 

This is the myth of Quetzalcoatl, who dies or disap- 
pears, and whose personality is represented at the 
outset in the isles, then successively, in all the coun- 
tries whither the civilization was carried of which he 
was the flag. So far as I can judge at present, the priest 
who placed himself under the aegis of this grand name, 
labored solely to reform what there was of odious and 
barbarous in the cult of which the women had the chief 
direction, and under whose regime human blood Ho wed 
in waves. After the triumph of Quetzalcoatl, the men 
who bore his name took the direction of religion and 
society, which then made considerable progress in their 

But if we are to believe the same traditions, their pre- 
ponderance had not a very long duration. The most 
restless and the most audacious among the partisans of 
the ancient order of things, raised the Hag of revolt: 
they became the chiefs of a warlike faction, rival of the 
sacerdotal, — a conquering faction, source of veritable 
royal dynasties and of the religion of the sun living and 
victorious, in opposition to the god entombed in the 


abyss. Qnetzalcoatl. vanquished by Tezcatlipoca, then 
retired before a too-powerful enemy, and the Toltees 
were dispersed among all nations. Those of them that 
remained coalesced with the victors, and from the accord 
of the aforementioned three cults, there sprang that 
monstrous amalgam of so man}' different ideas and sym- 
bols, such as is found to-da}* in what remains to us of the 
Mexican religion. 

For me (and it is always the abbe that speaks), I be- 
lieve I perceive the origin of the struggle, not alone in 
the diversity of races, but principally in the existence of 
two currents of contrary ideas, having had the same point 
of departure in the events of the great cataclysm of the 
Crescent Land, above referred to. Different manners of 
looking at these events and of commemorating them, seem 
to me to have marked from the beginning the starting 
point of two religions that lived, perhaps, side by side 
for centuries without the explosion of their disagree- 
ments, otherwise than by insignificant agitations. Before 
these two could take, with regard to each other, the pro- 
portions of a schism or a heresy, it was necessary that 
all the materials of which these religions are constituted 
had had time to elaborate themselves, and that the 
hieroglyphics which represented their origin had become 
sufficiently obscure for the priesthood to keep the vulgar 
from understanding them. For, if schism has brought 
on the struggle between and afterward the violent sepa- 
ration of families, this separation can not have taken 
place till after the entire creation of myths, the entire 
construction of these divine genealogies, of these poetic 
traditions, that are found scattered among all the peoples 
of the earth, but of which the complete whole does not 
exist, save in the history and religion of Mexico. 28 

Two orders of wds, — the one order fallen from heaven 

28 This, in its astounding immensity, is the abbe's theory: his supposi- 
tional Crescent Land was the cradle of all human races ami human creeds. 
0:i its submergence the aforesaid races and creeds spread and developed 
through all the world to their respective present localities and phases. The 
dean branch of this development he considers the likest to and the most 
closely connected with the original. 


into the abyss, becoming there the judges of the dead, 
and being personified in one of their number, who came 
to life again, symbolizing thus life and death, — the other 
order surviving the cataclysm and symbolizing thus an 
imperishable life, — such, at its origin, is the double 
character of the myth of Quetzalcoatl. But, in reality, 
this god he is the earth, he is the region swallowed up 
by the waters, he is the vanquished stilled under the 
weight of his adversary, under the force of the victorious 
wave ; which adversary, which power in opposition to the 
first, joining itself to the lire on the blazing pile of Na- 
nahuatl, is Tezcatlipoca, is Hercules, conqueror of ene- 
mies, is the god whose struggle is eternal as that of the 
ocean beating the shore, is he in whom the light becomes 
afterward personified, and w T ho becomes thus the battle- 
flag of the opponents of Quetzalcoatl. To the dead god 
a victim is necessary, one that like him descends into 
the abyss. This victim was a young girl, chosen among 
those that were consecrated at the foot of the pyramid, 
and drowned ; a custom long found as well in Egypt as 
at Chichen-Itza, 29 and in many other countries of the 
world. But to the god come to life again, to the god in 
whom fire was personified, and immortal life, to Quet- 
zalcoatl when he became Huitzilopochtli, victims were 
sacrificed, by tearing out the heart — symbol of the jet 
of flame issuing from the volcano — to offer it to the con- 
quering sun, symbol of Tezcatlipoca, who first demanded 
holocausts of human blood. 30 

29 In Yucatan. 

30 Brasseur de Bourbourg, Quatrcs Lettres, pp. 154-7. Much of this last 
paragraph seems utterly incomprehensible and absurd, even viewed from the 
stand-point of the Abbe Brasseur himself. By no means certain, at all points, 
of having caught the exact meauing by its author, I give the original:— Deux 
oi' Ires de dieux, dont les uns, tombes du ciel dans Fabime oil its devieiment 
les juges des morts, se personnifient en mi seul qui ressuscite, symbole de la 

■ t de la mort; dont les autres survivent a la destruction, symbole de la 
vie imperissable; tel est le double caractere du mythe de Quetzal-C'oatl, a son 
origine. Mais en realite, ce dieu, c'est la terre, e*est la region ensevelie sous 
les eaux, c'est le vaincu etounv sous le poids de son adversaire, sous 1' effort 
de la vague victorieuse et celle-ci s'uuissant au feu sur le bucher de Nanahu- 
atl, c'est Tezcatlipoca, c'est Hercule, vainqueurde sis ennemis, c'est le dieu 
dont la lutte est eternelle, comme celle de l'Ocean battant le rivage, c'est 
eelui en qui se personnifie ensuite lalumibre et qui devient ainsi le draj eau 
des adversaires de Quetzal-Ooatl. Au dieu mort, il fallait une victime, com- 


Mr Tylor declares Quetzalcoatl to have been the Sun: 
u We may even find him identified with the Sun by 
name, and his history is perhaps a more compact and 
perfect series of solar myths than hangs to the name of 
any single personage in our own Aryan mythology. 
His mother, the Dawn or the Night, gives birth to him, 
and dies. His father Camaxtli is the sun, and was wor- 
shiped with solar rites in Mexico, but he is the old Sun 
of yesterday. The clouds, personified in the mythic 
race of the Mixcohuas, or u Cloud-Snakes" (the ±s T ibel- 
ungs of the western hemisphere) , bear down the old Sun 
and choke him, and bury him in their mountain. But 
the young Quetzalcoatl, the Sun of to-day, rushes up in- 
to the midst of them from below, and some he slays at 
the first onset, and some he leaves, rift with red wounds 
to die. We have the Sun boat of Helios, of the Egypt- 
ian Ra, of the Polynesian Maui. Quetzolcoatl, his 
bright career drawing toward its close, is chased into 
far lands by his landsman Tezcatlipoca, the young Sun 
of to-morrow. He, too, is well known as a Sun God in 
the Mexican theology. Wonderfully fitting with all 
this, one incident after another in the life of Quetzal- 
coatl falls into its place. The guardians of the sacred 
fire tend him, his funeral pile is on the top of Orizaba, 
he is the helper of travelers, the maker of the calendar, 
the source of astrology, the beginner of history, the 
b ringer of wealth and happiness. He is the patron of 
the craftsmen, whom he lights to his labor; as it is 
written in an ancient Sanskrit hymn, ' He steps forth, 
the splendor of the sky, the wide-seeing, the far-aiming, 
the shining wanderer; surely enlivened by the sun, do 
men go to their tasks and do their work.' Even his 

Hie lui, descendue dans l'abime: ce fut une jeune fille, choisie parmi celles 
qui lui etaient consacrees au pied de la pyramide, et qu'on noyait en la 
plongeant sous l'eau, coutume qu'on retrouva longtemps en Egypte, comme 
a Chichen-Itza, ainsi que dans bien d'autres rays du monde. Mais au dieu 
r. ssuscite, au dieu en qui se personnitiait le feu, la vie immortelle, a Qudzal- 
,'!, devenu Huitzil-Opochtli, on sacrifia des victimes sans nombre, a qui 
Ton arrachait le cceur, symbole du jet de flamme sortant du volcan, pour 
l'offrir au soleil vainqueur, symbole de Tezcatlipoca qui, le premier, avait 
demands des holocaustes de sang humain. Id., pp. 31J-3. 


people, tlie Toltecs, catch from him solar qualities. "Will 
it be even possible to grant to this famous race, in whose 
story the legend of Quetzalcoatl is the leading incident, 
anything more than a mythic existence?"" 1 

Dr Brinton is of opinion that "that there were in 
truth many Quetzalcoatls, for his high priest always bore 
his name, but he himself is a pure creation of the fancy, 
and all his alleged history is nothing but a myth. His 
emblematic name, the Bird-Serpent, and his rebus and 
cross at Palenque, I have already explained. Others of 
his titles were, Ehecatl, the air; Yolcuat, the rattlesnake; 
Tohil, the rumbler; Huemac, the strong hand; Nanihe- 
hecatl, lord of the four winds. The same dualism re- 
appears in him that has been noted in his analogues 
elsewhere. He is both lord of the eastern light and the 

As the former, he was born of a virgin in the land of 
Tula or Tlapallan, in the distant Orient, and was high 
priest of that happy realm. The morning star was his 
symbol, and the temple of Cholula was dedicated to him 
expressly as the author of light. As by days we 
measure time, he was the alleged inventor of the calen- 
dar. Like all the dawn heroes, he too was represented 
as of white complexion, clothed in long white robes, and, 
as most of the Aztec gods, with a full and flowing beard. 
When his earthly work was done he too returned to the 
east, assigning as a reason that the sun, the ruler of 
Tlapallan, demanded his presence. But the real motive 
was that he had been overcome by Tezcatlipoca, other- 
wise called Yoalliehecatl, the wind or spirit of night, 
who had descended from heaven by a spider's web and 
presented his rival with a draught pretended to confer 
immortality, but, in fact, producing uncontrollable long- 
ing for home. For the wind and the light both depart 
when the gloaming draws near, or when the clouds 
spread their dark and shadowy webs along the mount- 
ains, and pour the vivifying rain upon the fields. 

In his other character, he was begot of the breath of 

31 Tylor's Research s } pp. 1C5-6. 


Tonacateotl, god of our flesh or subsistence, or (accord- 
ing to Gomara) was the son of Iztac Mixcoatl, the white 
cloud serpent, the spirit of the tornado. Messenger of 
Tlaloc, god of rain, he was figuratively said to sweep 
the road for him, since in that country violent winds are 
the precursors of the wet seasons. Wherever he went 
all manner of singing birds bore him company, emblems 
of the whistling breezes. When he finally disappeared 
in the for east, he sent back four trusty youths who 
had ever shared his fortunes, l incomparably swift and 
light of foot,' with directions to divide the earth between 
them and rule it till he should return and resume his 
power. When he would promulgate his decrees, his 
herald proclaimed them from Tzatzitepec, the hill of 
shouting, with such a mighty voice that it could be heard 
a hundred leagues around. The arrows which he shot 
transfixed great trees, the stones he threw leveled for- 
ests, and when he laid his hands on the rocks the mark 
was indelible. Yet as thus emblematic of the thunder- 
storm, he possessed in full measure its better attributes. 
By shaking his sandals he gave fire to men ; and peace, 
plenty, and riches blessed his subjects. Tradition says 
he built manj' temples to Mictlantecutli, the Aztec Pluto, 
and at the creation of the sun that he slew all the other 
gods, for the advancing dawn disperses the spectral 
shapes of night, and yet all its vivifying power does but 
result in increasing the number doomed to fall before the 
remorseless stroke of death. 

His symbols were the bird, the serpent, the cross and 
the flint, representing the clouds, the lightning, the four 
winds, and the thunderbolt. Perhaps, as Huemae, the 
Strong Hand, he was god of the earthquakes. The Za- 
potecs worshiped such a deity under the image of this 
number carved from a precious stone, calling to mind 
the ; Kab ul,' the Working Hand, adored by the Mayas, 

O 7 t/ */ 7 

and said to be one of the images of Zamna their hero 
god. The human hand, l that divine tool,' as it has 

i 7 

been called, might well be regarded by the reflective 
mind as the teacher of the arts and the amulet whose 


magic power has won for man what vantage he has 
gained in his long combat with nature and his fellows.'" 

Mr Helps sees in Qaetzalcoatl the closest analogies 
with certain other great civilizers and teachers that 
made their appearance in various parts of the American 
continent: — u One peculiar circumstance, as Humboldt 
remarks, is very much to be noted in the ancient records 
and traditions of the Indian nations. In no less than 
three remarkable instances has superior civilization been 
attributed to the sudden presence among them of per- 
sons differing from themselves in appearance and de- 

Bohica, a white man with a beard, appeared to the 
Mozca Indians in the plains of Bogota, taught them how 
to build and to sow, formed them into communities, 
gave an outlet to the waters of the great lake, and, hav- 
ing settled the government civil and ecclesiastical, retired 
into a monastic state of pentitence for two thousand 

In like manner Manco Capac, accompanied by his 
sister, Mama Oello, descended amongst the Peruvians, 
gave them a code of admirable laws, reduced them into 
communities, and then ascended to his father, the Sun. 

Amongst the Mexicans there suddenly appeared Quet- 
zalcoatl (green-feathered snake), a white and bearded 
man, of broad brow, dressed in a strange dress; a 
legislator, who recommended severe penances, lacerating 
his own body with the prickles of the agave and the 
thorns of the cactus, but who dissuaded his followers 
from human sacrifice. \\ hile he remained in Anahuae, 
it was a Saturnian reign; but this great legislator, after 
moving on to the plains of Cholula, and governing the 
Cholulans with wisdom, passed away to a distant country, 
and was never heard of more. It is said briefly of him 
that 'he ordained sacrifices of flowers and fruits, and 
stopped his ears when he was spoken to of war.' " 33 

The Abbe Domenech considers the tradition of the 

32 Brinton's Myths, pp. 180-3. 

33 Helps' Span. Conq., vol. i., pp. 28G-7. 


lives of Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca to be a bit of sim- 
ple and slightly veiled history, and also that there were 
several Quetzalcoatls. Let it be remembered in reading 
the abbe's version of this matter that the names of places, 
peoples, and the dates he gives are in great part myth- 
ical and conjectural :— " After the enfranchisement of the 
Olmecs, a man named Quetzalcoatl arrived in the coun- 
try, whom Garcia, Torquemada, Sahagun, and other Span- 
ish writers took to be Saint Thomas. It was also at that 
time that the third age ended, and that the fourth began, 
called Sun of the fire, because it was supposed that it was 
in this last stage that the world would be destroyed by 

It is in this fourth period that the Mexican historian 
places the Toltecs' arrival in New Spain, that is to say, 
about the third century before the Christian era. Ac- 
cording to the Quiches' traditions, the primitive portion 
of the Xahoas, or ancestors of the Toltecs, were in a dis- 
tant East, beyond immense seas and lands. Amongst 
the families and tribes that bore with least patience 
this long repose and immobility, those of Canub. and of 
Tlocab may be cited, for they were the first who deter- 
mined to leave their country. The Xahoas sailed in 
^evcii barks or ships, which Sahagun calls Chicomoztoc, 
or the seven grottos. It is a fact worthy of note, that in 
all ages the number seven was a sacred number among 
the American people, from one pole to the other. It 
was at Panuco, near Tampico, that those strangers dis- 
embarked; the}' established themselves at Paxil, witli 
the Votanites' consent, and their state took the name of 
Huehue-Tlopallan. It is not stated from whence they 
came, but merely that they came out of the regions 
where the sun rises. The supreme command was in the 
hand of a chieftain, whom history calls Quetzalcohuatl, 
that is to say, Lord par excellence. To his care was con- 
fided the holy envelope, which concealed the divinity from 
the human gaze, and he alone received from it the 
necessary instructions to guide his peoples march. 

bese kinds of divinities, thus enveloped, passed for 


being sure talismans, and were looked upon with the 
greatest respect and veneration. They consisted gener- 
ally of a bit of wood, in which was inserted a little 
idol of green stone ; this was covered with the skin of a ser- 
pent or of a tiger, after which it was rolled in numerous 
little hands of stuff, wherein it would remain wrapped 
lor centuries together. Such is, perhaps, the origin of 
the medicine bags made use of, even in the present day, 
by the Indians of the Great Desert, and of which we shall 
speak in the second volume of this work." 

Of apparently another Quetzalcoatl, he writes: "The 
Toltecs became highly nourishing under the reign of 
Ceocatl Quetzalcohuatl, a Culliuacan prince, who preached 
a new religion, sanctioning auricular confession and the 
celibacy of the priests. lie proscribed all kinds of war- 
fare and human sacrifices. Tezcatlipoca put himself at 
the head of the dissatisfied party, and besieged Tollan, 
the residence of Ceocatl Quetzalcohuatl ; but the latter re- 
fused to defend himself, in order to avoid the effusion of 
blood, which was prohibited by the laws of the religion 
he himself had established, and retired to Cholula, that 
had been constructed by his followers. From thence lie 
went to Yucatan. Tezcatlipoca, his fortunate rival, after 
a long reign became in his turn the victim of the popu- 
lar discontent, and fell in a battle that was given him 
by Ceocatl Quetzalcohuatl 7 s relatives. Those two kings 
are elevated to the rank of gods, and their worship was 
a perpetual subject of discord and civil war in all 
Anahuac until the arrival of the Spaniards in the New 
AVorld." 31 

The interpreters of the different codices, or Mexican 
paintings represented in Kingsborough's great work, 
give, as is their wont in all matters, a confused, imper- 
fect, and often erroneous account of Quetzalcoatl: — 
" Quetzalcoatl is he who was born of the virgin, called 
Chalchihuitztli, which means the precious stone of pen- 
ance or of sacrifice. He was saved in the deluge, and 
was born in Zivenaritzcatl where he resides. His fast 

3 4 Domeaech's Deserts, vol. i., pp. 32-3, 39. 


was a kind of preparation for the arrival of the end of the 
world which they said would happen on the day of Four 
Earthquakes, so that they were thus in daily expectation 
of that event. Quetzalcoatl was he who the}- say created 
the world, and they hestowed on him the appellation of 
lord of the wind, because they said that Tonacatecotli, 
when it appeared good to him, breathed and begat 
Quetzalcoatl. They erected round temples to him, with- 
out any corners. They said that it was he (who was 
also the lord of the thirteen signs which are here repre- 
sented), who formed the first man. He alone had a 
human body like that of men, the other gods were of an 
incorporeal nature." 35 

"They declare that their supreme deity, or more pro- 
perly speaking, demon Tonacatecotle, whom we have 
just mentioned, who by another name was called Citina- 
tonali, .... begot Quetzalcoatl, not by connection with a 
woman, but by his breath alone, as we have observed 
above, when he sent his ambassador, as they say, to the 
virgin of Tulla. They believed him to be the god of the 
air. and he was the first to whom they built temples and 
churches, which they formed perfectly round, without 
any angles. They say it was he who effected the reform- 
ation of the world by penance, as we have already said ; 
since, according to their account, his father had cre- 
ated the world, and men had given themselves up to 
vice, on which account it had been so frequently de- 
stroyed. Citinatonali sent this his son into the world to 
reform it. We certainly must deplore the blindness of 
these miserable people, on whom Saint Paul says the 
wrath of God has to be revealed, inasmuch as his eternal 
truth was so long kept back b} r the injustice of attribut- 
ing to this demon that which belonged to Him; for He 
being the sole creator of the universe, and He who made 
the division of the waters, which these poor people just 
now attributed to the Devil, when it appeared good to 
Him, dispatched the heavenly ambassador to announce 

35 Explication del Codex Telleriano-Remensis, parte ii., lam. ii., in Kings- 
borough's Hex. Antiq., vol. v., pp. 135-0. 


to the virgin that she should be the mother of his eter- 
nal word : who, when He found the world corrupt, re- 
formed it by doing penance and by dying upon the cross 
for our sins; and not the wretched Quetzalcoatl, to 
whom these miserable people attributed this work. 
They assigned to him the dominion over the other 
thirteen signs, which are here represented, in the same 
manner as they had assigned the preceding thirteen to 
his father. They celebrated a great festival on the ar- 
rival of his sign, as we shall see in the sign of Four 
Earthquakes, which is the fourth in order here, because 
they feared that the world would be destroyed in that 
sign, as he had foretold to them when he disappeared in 
the Red Sea; which event occurred on the same sign. 
As they considered him their advocate, they celebrated 
a solemn festival, and fasted during four signs." 

J. G-. Muller holds Quetzalcoatl to be the representative 
national god of the Toltecs, surviving under many miscon- 
ceptions and amid many incongruities, — bequeathed to 
or adopted into the later Mexican religion. The learned 
professor has devoted an unusual amount of care and 
research to the interpretation of the Quetzalcoatl myths; 
and as no other inquirer has shown therein at once so 
accurate and extensive an acquaintance with the subject 
and so calm and judicious a judgment, we give his 
opinion at length, and first his summing up of the fable- 
history of Quetzalcoatl : — 

The Toltecs, a traditional pre-historic people, after 
leaving their orignal northern home Huehuetlapallan 
(that is Old-red-land) chose Tulla, north of AnaTmac 
as the first capital of their newly founded kingdom. 
Quetzalcoatl was their high-priest and religious chief 
at this place. Huemac, or Huematzin, conducted the 
civil government as the companion of Quetzalcoatl, and 
wrote the code of the nation. Quetzalcoatl is said to 
have been a white man (some gave him a bright red 

tyieiazione '■'"/A" Tavole del Codlce Mcxicano, tav. xli., KingsborowjJt's 
Mex. Antiq., vol. v., pp. 181-5. 

Vol. III. 18 


face), with a strong formation of body, broad forehead, 
large eyes, black hair, and a heavy beard. lie always 
wore a long white robe; which, according to Gomara, 
was decorated with crosses; he had a mitre on his head 
and a sickle in his hand. At the volcano of Cotcitepec, 
or Tzatzitepec, near Tulla, he practised long and numer- 
ous penances, giving thereby an example to his priests 
and successors. The name of this volcano means ''the 
mountain of outcry;" and when Quetzalcoatl gave 
laws, he sent a crier to the top of it whose voice 
could be heard three hundred miles off. He did 
what the founders of religions and cults have done 
in other countries: he taught the people agriculture, 
metallurg}-, stone-cutting, and the art of government. 
He also arranged the calendar, and taught his subjects 
fit religious ceremonies; preaching specially against 
human sacrifices, and ordering offerings of fruits and 
flowers only. He would have nothing to do with wars, 
even covering his ears when the subject was mentioned. 
His was a veritable golden age, as in the time of Saturn ; 
animals and even men lived in peace, the soil produced 
the richest harvests without cultivation, and the grain 
grew so large that a man found it trouble enough to 
cany one ear; no cotton was dyed, as it grew of all 
colors, and fruits of all kinds abounded. Everybody 
was rich and Quetzalcoatl owned whole palaces of gold, 
silver, and precious stones. The air was filled with the 
most pleasant aromas, and a host of finely feathered 
birds filled the world with melody. 

But this earthly happiness came to an end. Tezcat- 
lipoca rose up against Quetzalcoatl and against Huemac, 
in order to separate them, and to destroy their govern- 
ment. He descended from the sky on a rope of spider- 
web and commenced to work for his object with the aid 
of magic arts. He first appeared in the form of a hand- 
some 3011th (and in the dress of a merchant), dressed as 
a merchant selling pepper-pods, and presented himself 
before the daughter of kimr Huemac. He soon seduced 
the princess, and thereby opened the road to a general 


immorality and a total collapse of the laws. He pre- 
sented himself before Quetzalcoatl in the form of an old 
man, with the view of inducing him to depart to his 
home in Tlapalla. For this purpose he offered him a 
drink which he pretended would endow him with im- 
mortality. No sooner had Quetzalcoatl taken the drink, 
then he was seized with a violent desire to see his father- 
land. He destroyed the palaces of gold, silver, and pre- 
cious stones, transformed the fruit-trees into withered 
trunks, and ordered all song-birds to leave the country, 
and to accompany him. Thus he departed, and the birds 
entertained him during his journey with their songs. 

He first traveled southward, and arrived in Quauh- 
titlan, in Anahuac. In the vicinity of this town he 
broke down a tree by throwing stones, the stones remain- 
ing in the trunk. Farther south, in the same valley, 
near Tlalnepantla, or Tanepantla, he pressed hand and 
foot into a rock with such force that the impression has 
remained down to the latest centuries, in the same man- 
ner as the mark of the shoes of the horses of Castor and 
Pollux near Regillum. The Spaniards were inclined 
to ascribe these and similar freaks of nature to the Apos- 
tle Thomas. 

Quetzalcoatl now turned toward the east, and arrived 
in Cholula, where he had to remain for a longer period, 
as the inhabitants intrusted him with the government of 
their state. The same order of things which had taken 
place in Tulla, his first residence, was here renewed. 
From this centre his rule spread far and wide ; he sent 
colonists from Cholula to Huaxayacac, Tabasco and Cam- 
peche, and the nobility of Yucatan prided themselves on 
their descent from him; men having been found in our 
time who bear his name, just as the descendants of Vo- 
tan bore the name of Yotan in Chiapas. In Cholula it- 
self he was adored, and temples were everywhere erected 
in his honor, even by the enemies of the Cholulans. A fter 
a residence of twenty years in Cholula, he proceeded on 
his journey toward Tlalpalla until he arrived at the 
river and in the province of Coatzacoalco ; or Goasacoal- 


co, Guasacualco, that i,s Hiding-nook of the snake — south 
o Vera Cruz. He now sent the four youths, who had 
accompanied him from Cholula, back to the Cholulans, 
promising to return later on and renew the old govern- 
ment. The Cholulans placed the four youths at the head 
of their government, out of love for him. This hope of 
his return still existed among the Mexican nations at the 
time of Cortes' arrival. In fact, Cortes was at first held 
to be the returning Quetzalcoatl, and a man was sacrificed 
to him, with whose blood the conqueror and ' his com- 
panions were marked. Father Sahagun was also asked. 

everybody on his journey to Mexico, if he and his suite 
came from Tlapalla. According to Montezuma's account 
to Cortes. Quetzalcoatl really did once return to Cholula, 
after such a length of time that he found his subjects 
married to the native women, having children, and so 
numerous that a number of new districts had to be 
founded. This new race would not recognize their old 
chief, and refused to obe}' him. He thereupon departed 
angrily, threatening 1 to return at another time and to 
subdue them by force, it is not remarkable that an 
i pectation, which was a hope to the Cholulans, should 
be a dread to Montezuma and his subjects. 

According to some accounts. Quetzalcoatl died in the 
Biding-nook of the snakes, in the Goatzacoalco country; 
according to others, he suddenly disappeared toward the 
east, and a ship, formed of snakes wound together, 
brought him to Tlapalla. 

A closer view and criticism of this tale, in the light of 
the analogy of mythological laws, shows us that Quetzal- 
c< ;itl is the euhemerized religious ideal of the Toltecan 
nations. The similarity of this tale with those of Man- 
co Capac, Botschika, Saturn, and others, is at once ap- 
} rent. The opinion of Prescott, Wuttke, and many 
< hers, who held him for a deified man, founder of a 
religion and of a civilization, is confirmed by the latest 
version of the fable, in which Quetzalcoatl is represented 
in this character. Although euhemerism is an old idea 
with all people, as well as with the Americans. — per- 


Bonification being the first step toward it, — the general 
reasons which everywhere appear against the existence 
of such founders of a civilization must also be made to 
speak against this idea of Quetzalcoatl. 

If a special value is placed upon the white face and 
the beard, it must be remembered that the beard, which 
is given to the Mexican priests, could not be omitted 
with Quetzalcoatl; and the mention by some of his hav- 
ing had a white face, and by others a red, might arouse 
a suspicion that Quetzalcoatl has been represented as a 
white man on account of his white robe. 

The fable of Quetzalcoatl contains contradictions, the 
younger elements of which are a pure idealism of the 
more ancient. For instance, the statement that the 
earth produced everything spontaneously, without hu- 
man labor, does not agree with the old version of the 
myth, according to which Quetzalcoatl taught agricul- 
ture and other industries requiring application and hard 
work. The sentimental love of peace has also been at- 
tributed to this god in later times, during a time when the 
Toltecs had lost the martial spirit of their victorious ances- 
tors, and when the Cholulans, given to effeminacy, dis- 
tinguished themselves more by cunning than by courage. 
The face of the god is represented, in the fable, as more 
beautiful and attractive, than it is depicted on the images. 
At the place where he was most worshiped, in Cholula, 
the statute of Quetzalcoatl stood in his temple, on the 
summit of the great pyramid. Its features had a 
gloomy cast, and differed from the beautiful face which 
is said to have been his on earth. 

The fable shows its later idealized elements in these 
points. In all other respects, the Toltecan peculiarities of 
the entire nation arc either clearly and faithfully de- 
picted in their hero, as in a personified ideal, or else the 
original attributes of the nature deity are recognizable. 
A\ here the Toltecs were, there was he also, or a hero 
identical with him; the Toltecs who journeyed south- 
ward are colonists sent by him; the Toltecs capitals, 
Tulla and Cholula, are his residences; and as the laws 


of the Toltecs extended far and wide, so did the voice 
of his crier reach three hundred miles into the country. 
The arts and welfare of the Toltecs, their riches and re- 
ligious feeling, even their later unwarlike peacefulness, 
all these attributes are transferred to Quetzalcoatl. The 
long robe of the Toltecs was also the dress of their 
hero; the necktie of the boys of his religious order is 
attached to his image; and, as his priests wore the 
mitre, he is also represented with it. He is, above all, 
depicted as the original model of the Toltec priests, the 
Tlamacazque (the order was called Tlamacazcojotl), whose 
chief, or superior, always bore the name of Quetzalcoatl. 
As these orders of his had to submit to the strictest ob- 
servances, — their members having to slit the tongue, 
ears and lips in honor of Quetzalcoatl, and the small 
boys being set apart for him hy making an incision on 
their breasts, — so he submitted, before all others, to 
these penances on the Tzatzitipec Mountain. These self- 
inflicted punishments must not be termed penances, as 
is often done, for they have no moral meaning, such as to 
do penance for committed sins, nor have they the mjstic 
meaning of the East Indian idea of the end of the 
world (Weltabsterben) and the return to the pantheistic 
chaos (Urall and Urnichts) ; all this is foreign to the 
American religion. They are, on the contrary, blood- 
offerings, substitutes for the human sacrifices in the 

O 7 

background, to obtain earthly blessings, and to avert 
earthly misfortunes. As Quetzalcoatl preached against 
human sacrifices, so his priests under the Aztec rule, 
were very reluctant to make them. After the great 
slaughter by Cortes, in Cholula, Montezuma proceeded 
to the great temple of Huitzilopochtli, made many 
human sacrifices, and questioned the god, who bade him 
to be of good heart, and assured him that the Cholulans 
had suffered so terribly merely 7 on account of their re- 
luctance to offer up human beings. 

As the disappearance of the Toltecs toward the south 
and the south-east agrees with the disappearance of 
Quetzalcoatl, so we find many traits from the end of the 


last Toltec king reproduced in the end of the Toltec hero. 
After the defeat of king Tlolpintzin, he (Tlolpintzin) 
tied southward, toward Tlapalla. He made use of these 
words, in his last farewell to his friends: I have retired 
toward the east, but will return after 5012 years to 
avenge myself on the descendants of mine enemies. 
After having lived thirty years in Tlapalla, he died. 
His laws were afterward accepted by Nezalhualcoyotzin. 
The belief that Tlolpintzin stayed with Xezalhualcoy- 
otzin, and some other brave kings, in the cave of Xicco, 
after death, like the three Tells of Switzerland, but 
would at some time come out and deliver his people, was 
long current among the Indians. Every one will notice 
how well this agrees with Montezuma's account of the re- 
turn of Quetzalcoatl. 

Quezatlcoatl cannot, however, be a representative and 
a national god of the Toltecs, without having an original 
nature-basis for his existence as a god. It is every- 
where the case among savages with their national god, 
that the latter is a nature-deity, who becomes gradually 
transformed into a national god, then into a national 
king, high-priest, founder of a religion, and at last ends 
in being considered a human being. The older and purer 
the civilization of a people is, the easier it is to recognise 
the original essence of its national god, in spite of all 
transformations and disguises. So it is here. Behind 
the human form of the god glimmers the nature shape, 
and the national god is known by, perhaps, all his wor- 
shipers as also a nature deity. From his powerful 
influence upon nature, he might also be held as the 

The pure human form of this god, as it appears in the 
fable, as well as in the image, is not the original, but 
the youngest. His oldest concrete forms are taken from 
nature, to which he originally belongs, and have 
maintained themselves in many attributes. All these 
symbolize him as the god of fertility, chiefly, as it is 
made apparent, by means of the beneficial influence of 
the air. All Mexican and European statements make 


him appear as the god of the air and of the wind ; even 
the euhemeristic idea deifies the man Qtietzalcoatl into 
a nod of the air. All the Mexican tribes adored him at 
the time of the conquest as god of the air, and all ac- 
counts, however much they may differ on the particular 
points of his poetical life, agree, without exception, in 
this one respect, as the essential and chief point. Be- 
sides the symbols, which are merely attached to the 
image, there are three attributes, which represent as 
many original visible forms and exteriors of the god. in 
which he is represented and worshiped: the sparrow, the 
Hint (Feuerstein), and the snake. 

According to Herrera. the image of Quetzalcoatl had 
the body of a man, but the head of a bird, a sparrow 
with a red bill, a large com!), and with the tongue hang- 
ing far out of the mouth. The air-god of these northern 
people, parallel to Quetzalcoatl, the Aztec Huitzilopochtli, 
was represented with devices connected with the hum- 
ming-bird, in remembrance of his former humming-bird 
nature. This is the northern element. The great spirit 
of the northern redskins also appear in his most esteemed 
form as a bird. The Latin Picus was originally a wood- 
pecker (Specht), afterward anthropomorphized and even 
euhemerized, but lie has ever the woodpecker by his side, 
in his capacity of human seer. Several Egyptian gods 
have human bodies and animal heads, especially heads of 
birds. Birds are not alone symbols of particular godlike 
attributes, as used in the anthropomorphic times, not mere 
messengers and transmitters of the orders of the gods, but 
they have originally been considered as gods themselves, 
with forms of godlike powers, especially in North 
America; and the exterior of the god of the air, the 
fructifying air, is naturally that of a bird, a singing- 
bird. The hieroglyphic sign among the Mexicans for 
the air is, therefore, the head of a bird with three tongues. 
Wherever Quetzalcoatl stayed and ruled, there birds 
filled the air, and song-birds gave indication of their 
presence; when he departed, he took them with him, 
and was entertained during the journey by their singing. 


A second form of Quetzalcoatl was the flint, which 
we have already learned to know as a symbol and 
hieroglyphic sign for the air. He was either repre- 
sented as a black stone, or several small green ones, 
supposed to have fallen from heaven, most likely serolites, 
which were adored by the Cholulans in the service of 
Quetzalcoatl. Betaneourt even explains the meaning of 
the name Quetzalcoatl, contrary to the usual definition, 
as "twin of a precious stone." The fable of Quauhtit- 
lan is also connected with this stone- worship; how Quet- 
zalcoatl had overthrown a tree by means of stones which 
remained fixed in it, These stones were later on adored 
as holy stones of Quetzalcoatl. The stone at Tlalnepan- 
tla, into which he pressed his hand, must also have rep- 
presented the god himself. Similar ancient stone- wor- 
ships, of greater nature deities as well as fetiches, were 
found, in many instances, in Peru, in the pre-Inca times. 
In ancient Central America we meet with the worship 
of such green stones called chalchihuites. Votan was 
worshiped in the form of such a green stone, connected 
with the other two attributes. This attribute of Quet- 
zalcoatl most likely belongs to the south. 

The third form of Quetzalcoatl, which also belongs to 
the south, is the snake; he is a snake-god, or, at least, 
merged into an ancient snake-god. The snake is not, as 
far as I know, a direct symbol of the air, and this attri- 
bute is, therefore, not the one pertaining to him from 
the beginning; but the snake represents the season which, 
in conjunction with heat and rain, contains the fructify- 
ing influence of the atmosphere, spring, the rejuvenating 
year. However, the very name of the god signifies, 
according to the usual, explanation given to it, "the 
feathered snake, the snake covered with feathers, the 
green feathered-snake, the wood-snake with rich feath- 
ers." A snake has consequently been added to the 
human figure of this god. The other name, under which 
he is adored in Yucatan, is Cuculcan, a snake covered 
with godlike feathers. The entrance to his round temple 
in Mexico represented the jaw and fangs of a tremen- 


clous snake. Quetzalcoatl disappeared in Goatzacoalco, 1 
the Snake-corner (or nook), and a ship of snakes brought 
him to Tlapalla. His followers in Yucatan were called 
snakes, Cocome (plural of Coatl), while he himself bore 
the name of Cocolcan in this country as well as in Chia- 
pas. The snake attribute signifies, in connection with 
Huitzilopochtli, also the beneficial influence of the atmos- 
phere, the yearly renewed course of nature, the continu- 
al rejuvenation of nature in germs and blossoms. The 
northern celestial god, Odin, is in many ways connected 
with snakes, he transformed himself into a snake, and 
bore the by-name of Snake. 

The relationship of Tezcatlipoca and Quetzalcoatl, as 
given in the fable, may be touched upon here. The 
driving away of the latter by Tezcatlipoca does not, as 
may be supposed, signify a contest between the Aztec 
religion and the preceding Toltecan. In such a case 
Huitzilopochtli, the chief of the Aztec gods, by whose 
adoration the contrast is painted in the deepest colors, 
would have been a much better representant. 

Quetzalcoatl no doubt preached against human sacri- 
fices, brought into such unprecedented swing by the 
Aztecs, yet the worshipers of this god adopted the sacri- 
fice of human beings in an extensive way during the 
Aztec rule, to which period this part of the Quetzalcoatl 
fable necessarily owes its origin. At this time the con- 
trast was so slight that Quetzalcoatl partook of the high- 
est adoration of Aztecs, not only in Cholula, but in 
Mexico and everywhere. His priest enjoyed the highest 
esteem and his temple in Mexico stood by the side of 
that of Huitzilopochtli. Montezuma not only calls the 
Toltec hero a leader of his forefathers, but the Aztecs 
actually consider him as a son of Huitzilopochtli. The 
opposition of the two gods, Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca, 
has another reason: the difference lies not in their wor- 
ship, but in their nature and being, in the natural phe- 
nomena which they represent. If the god of the beneficial 
atmosphere, the manifested god-power of the atmosphere 
of the fructifying seasons, is adored in Quetzalcoatl; then 


Tezcatlipoca is his opposite, the god of the gloomy lower 
regions destitute of life and germ, the god of drouth, of 
withering, of death. 

Wherever, therefore, Quetzalcoatl rules, there are riehes 
and abundance, the air is filled with fragrance and song- 
birds—an actual golden era; but when he goes south- 
ward with his song-birds, he is expelled by Tezcatlipoca, 
drouth sets in, and the palaces of gold, silver, and pre- 
cious stones, symbols of wealth, are destroyed. He 
promises, however, everywhere to return. A represen- 
tation mentioned and copied by Humboldt, shows Tez- 
catlipoca in the act of cutting up the snake. This 
has not the meaning of the acts of Hercules, of Ton- 
atiuh, of the great spirit of the Chippewas, of the Ger- 
man Siegfried, of the Celtic dragon-killers Tristan and 
Iwein, or of the other sun-gods, spring-gods, and culture- 
heroes, who light and subdue the snake of the unfertile 
moisture; such an interpretation would be opposed to the 
nature of this god. On the contrary, the god of death 
and drouth here fights the snake as the symbol of mois- 
ture, of the fertilization of the plant-life. 

The question now arises: if Quetzalcoatl only received 
his snake attribute in the south, and this his name, what 
was his original northern and Toltecan name ? AVe 
answer, coinciding with the views expressed by Ixtlil- 
xochitl and others, who affirm that Quetzalcoatl and his 
worldly companion, Huemac, were one and the same 
person. The opposed opinion of Ternaux-Compans, 
who states that Quetzalcoatl must have been an Olmec, 
while Huemac was a Toltec, actually gives the key to 
the solution of the question. Both are right, Ixtlilxo- 
chitl and Ternaux, Huemac is the original Toltec name 
of the Toltec national god, ruler, and author of the 
holy books, the ancient name used by the Toltecs. As 
this people succumbed more and more to southern influ- 
ences, and their ancient air-god in his sparrow form re- 
ceived in addition the snake attribute, on account of 
his rejuvenating influence upon nature, then, the new 
name of the more cultivated people soon appeared. 


The name may, therefore, be Olmec, but not the god ; 
we may sooner suppose that the attributes of the Maya 
god, Yotan, have been transferred to the Toltec god. 
Both names having thus a double origin; the legend 
which found two names, made also two persons of them, 
and placed them side by side. It is, however, easy to 
see that they are naturally one: Huemac has just as 
much a religious signification as Quetzalcoatl 5 as Hue- 
matzin, he wrote the divine book, containing all the 
earthly and heavenly wisdom of the Toltecs. Quetzal- 
coatl has, in the same degree, besides his religious posi- 
tion, the worldly one of ruler and founder of a civili- 
zation. As Quetzalcoatl possesses a divine nature, so 
does Huemac, to whom also are ascribed the three hun- 
dred years of life, and the impression of the hand in the 

Besides the attributes of the sparrow, flint, and snake, 
there are others which ascribe to Quetzalcoatl the same 
properties, but less prominently. As god of the air, 
he holds the wonderfully painted shield in his hand, a 
symbol of his power over the winds. As god of the fer- 
tilizing influence of the air, he holds, like Saturn, the 
sickle, symbol of the harvest — he it is that causes the 
grain to ripen. It used to be said that he prepared the 
way for the water-god, for in these regions, the rains 
are always preceded by winds. It was on account of 
this intimate connection with the rain, which had 
already procured him the snake attribute, that his 
mantle was adorned with crosses. We have already seen 
that such crosses represented the rain-god with the 
Mayas, and are symbols of the fructifying rain. Con- 
sequently they are well suited for the god who is only 
air-god in the sense of the air exercising its fructifying 
and invigorating influence upon the earth. 

Another question, which has already occurred to us, 
must here be considered. Why did this god come from 
the east, depart toward the east, and why should he be 
expected from the east? The Toltecs have, according 
to almost unanimous statements, come from the north, 


and even Quetzalcoatl commences his rule in the north, 
in Tulla, and proceeds gradually on his journey from the 
north to the south-east, just like the Toltecs, who trav- 
eled southward from Tulla. It is plain that he departs 
for the east, because this is his home, from which he came 
and will return. His eastern origin is, no doubt, based 
upon the direction of the eastern trade- winds, which 
carry rain and, with it, fertility to the interior of Cen- 
tral America. The rains began three or four weeks 
earlier in Yera Cruz, Tampico, and Tabasco than in 
Puebla and Mexico. Another reason, which has, how- 
ever, a certain connection with the above, may be the 
relationship of the god of air and the sun-god, who often 
assumed an equal position in nature and in worship. 
We know that the founders of the Peruvian and Muys- 
can cults come from the east, because they are sun-gods. 
Quetzalcoatl is not such a deity, it is true, but the ferti- 
lizing air-god is also in other places closely connected 
with the fructifying sun, as, for example Huitzilopochtli, 
Odin, and Brama. The sun is his eye. This connection 
with the sun. Montezuma referred to when he spoke in 
the presence of Cortes of the departure of Quetzalcoatl 
for the regions from which the sun comes. As the 
sun is the eye of heaven, to whom the heart of the vic- 
tim sacrificed to the god of heaven is presented, so it is 
at night with the moon, to whom the same tribute was 
paid at the feast of Quetzalcoatl. I merely refer to this 
here to show the connection of the air-god with the great 
heavenly bodies. 

Several other significations are attached to the idea of 
an air-god. It is natural that the god of heavenly bless- 
ing should also be the god of wealth. All wealth depends 
originally upon the produce of the soil, upon the blessing 
of heaven, however worldly the opinion of the matter may 
be. Gold is merely the symbol of this wealth, like the 
golden shower of Zeus. r J Tie image of Quetzalcoatl was, 
therefore, according to Acosta, adorned with gold, silver, 
jewels, rich feathers, and gay dresses, to illustrate his 
wealth. Tor this reason he wore a nolden helmet, 


and his sceptre was decorated with costly stones. The 
same view is also the basis of the myths of the ancients 
about snakes and dragons guarding treasures. The 
fact that the merchants of Cholula worshiped the god of 
wealth hefore all others, and as their chief deity, requires 
no explanation. 

His worship in Cholula was conducted as follows: 
Forty days before the festival, the merchants bought a 
spotless slave, who was first taken to bathe in a lake 
called the Lake of the Gods, then dressed up as the 
god Quetzalcoatl, whom he had to represent for forty 
days. During this time he enjoyed the same adoration 
as was given to the god: he was set upon a raised 
place, presented with flowers, and fed on the choicest 
viands. He was, however, well guarded during; the 
night, so that he might not escape. During his exhibition 
through the town, he danced and sang, and the women and 
children ran out of their houses to salute him and make 
him presents. This continued until nine days before the 
end of the forty days. Then two old priests approached 
him in all humility, saying, in deep voice: Lord, know 
that in nine days thy singing and dancing will cease, be- 
cause thou must die! If he continued of good spirit, and 
inclined to dance and sing, it was considered a good omen, 
if the contrary, a bad one. In the latter case they pre- 
pared him a drink of blood and cacao, which was to ob- 
literate the remembrance of the past conversation. 
After drinking this, it was hoped that he would resume 
his former good humor. On the day of the festival 
still greater honors were shown him, music sounded and 
incense was burnt. At last, at the midnight hour, he 
was sacrificed, the heart was torn out of his body, 
held up to the moon, and then thrown toward the image 
of the god. The body was cast down the steps of the 
temple, and served the merchants, especially the slave- 
dealers, for a sacrificial meal. This feast and sacrifice 
took place every .year, but after a certain number of 
cycles, as in the divine year, Teoxihuitl, they were cele- 
brated with much more pomp. Quetzalcoatl had, gene- 


nillv, his human sacrifices during the Aztec rule, as well 
as the other gods. 

The power which reestablishes the macrocosm, heals 
and rejuvenates the microcosm also: it is the general 
healing power. With the good weather thousands of 
invalids are restored, and refreshing rains not only re- 
vive the thirst}' plains of the tropics, but man himself. 
Thus the air-god, the atmosphere, becomes a healing 
god. A Phoenician told Pausanius that the snake god, 
iEsculapius, signified the health-restoring air. If this 
god of heaven is also a snake-god, like Quetzalcoatl, the 
rejuvenating and reinvigorating power of nature is ex- 
pressed in a clear parallelism. 

The snake-god is also a healing god, and even the 
Greek iEsculapius cannot dispense with the snake. 
It is, thus, not to be wondered at that the sterile women 
of the Mexican peoples directed their prayers to Quetzal- 
coatl. 37 

This concludes the able summing-up presented by 
Mailer, and it is given as I nive all theoretical matter, 
neither accepting nor rejecting it, as simply another ray 
of light bent in upon the god Quetzalcoatl, whose nature 
?t is not proposed here to either explain or illustrate, 
but only to reproduce, as regarded from many sides by 
the earliest and closest observers. 

37 Midler, Amirikanische Urreligionen, pp. 577-500. Some further notes 
regarding this god from a different point, may be found in Brasseur de Bour- 
bourg, Palenque, pp.40 etc, 66 etc. 



\abtous accounts of the Bieth, Origin, and Derivation of the name 
of t:ie Mexican War God, Huitzilopochtli, of his Temple, Image, 
Ceremonial, Festivals, and his deputy, or page, Paynal — Clayige- 
eo — Boturini — A cost a — Solis — Sahagun — Heebeea — Torquemada 
— J. G. Muller's Summary of the Huitzilopochtli Myths, their 
Origin, Relation, and Signification — Tylor — Codex Vaticano — 
Tlaloc, God of Water, especially of Bain, and of Mountains — 
Clavigero, Gama, and Ixtlilxochitl — Pi;ayer in time of Drought 
— Camargo, Mo:olinia, Mendieta, and the Vatican Codex on the 
Sacrifices to Tlaloc — The Decorations of his Victims and the plac: b 
of their Execution — Gathering Bushes for the Service of the 
Water God — Highway Bobberies by the Priests at this time — 
Decorations and Implements of the Priests — Punishments for Cere- 
monial Offences — The Whirlpool of Pantitlan — Images of the 
Mountains in honor of the Tlaloc Festival — of the coming Bain 
and Mutilation of the Images of the Mountains — General Promi- 
nence in the cult of Tlaloc, of the Number Four, the Cb 
and the Snake. 

Huitzilopochtli, Huitziloputzli. or Vitziliputzli, was 
the god of war and the especially national god of the 
Mexicans. Some said that he was a purely spiritual 
being, others that a woman had borne him after mirac- 
ulous conception. This legend, following Clavigero, ran 
a* follows: 

In the ancient city of Tulla, lived a most devout 
woman. Coatlicue by name. Walking one day in the 
temple as her custom was. she saw a little ball of feath- 
ers floating down from heaven, which, taking without 

(288) "' 


thought, she put into her bosom. The walk being ended, 
however, she could not find the ball, and wondered 
much, all the more that soon after this she found her- 
self pregnant. She had already many children, who 
now, to avert this dishonor of their house, conspired to 
kill her; at which she was sorely troubled. But, from 
the midst of her womb the god spoke: Fear not, my 
mother, for this danger will I turn to our great honor 
and glory. And lo, Huitzilopochtli, oerfect as Pallas 
Athena, was instantly born, springirg up with a mighty 
war-shout, grasping the shield and the glittering spear. 
His left leg and his head were adorned with plumes of 
green; his face, arms, and thighs barred terribly with 
lines of blue. He fell upon the unnatural children, slew 
them all, and endowed his mother with their spoils. And 
from that day forth his names were Tezahuitl, Terror, and 
Tetzauhteotl, Terrible god. 

This was the god who became protector of the Mexi- 
cans, who conducted them so many years in their pil- 
erimaure, and settled them at last on the site of Mexico. 
And in this city they raised him that proud temple so 
much celebrated even by the Spaniards, in which were 
annually held their solemn festivals, in the fifth, ninth, 
and fifteenth months; besides those kept every four 
years, every thirteen years, and at the beginning of every 
century. His statue was of gigantic size, in the posture 
of a man seated on a blue-colored bench, from the four 
corners of which issued four huge snakes. His forehead 
was blue, but his face was covered with a golden mask, 
while another of the same kind covered the back of his 
head. Upon his head he carried a beautiful crest, shaped 
like the beak of a bird; upon his neck a collar consist- 
ing of ten figures of the human heart; in his riirht hand, 
a large, blue, twisted club; in his left, a shield, on which 
appeared five balls of feathers disposed in the form of a 
cross, and from the upper part of the shield rose a golden 
flag with four arrows, which the Mexicans pretended to 
have been sent to them from heaven to perform those 
glorious actions which we have seen in their history. His 

Vol. III. 19 


body was girt with a large golden snake, and adorned with 
various lesser figures of animals made of gold and pre- 
cious stones, which ornaments and insignia had each their 
peculiar meaning. The}' never deliberated upon making 
war without imploring the protection of this god. with 
prayers and sacrifices ; and offered up a greater number 
of human sacrifices to him than to any other of the gods. 1 

A different account of the origin of this deity is given 
by Boturini, showing the god to have been a brave Mexi- 
can chief, who was afterward apotheosized: — 

While the Mexicans were pushing their conquests and 
their advance toward the country now occupied by them, 
they had a very renowned captain, or leader, called 
Huitziton. He it was that in these long and perilous 
journeys through unknown lands, sparing himself no 
fatigue, took care of the Mexicans. The fable says of 
him that being full of years and wisdom he was one 
night caught up in sight of his army, and of all his 
people, and presented to the god Tezauhteotl, that is to 
say the Frightful God, who, being in the shape of a 
horrible dragon, commanded him to he seated at his 
right hand, saying: Welcome, valiant captain; very 
grateful am I for thy fidelity in my service and in gov- 
erning my people. It is time that thou shouldest rest, 
since thou art already old, and since thy great deeds 
raise thee up to the fellowship of the immortal gods. 
Return then to thy sons and tell them not to be afflicted 
if in future the}* cannot see thee as a mortal man ; for 
from the nine heavens thou shalt look down propitious 
upon them. And not only that, but also, when I strip 
the vestments of humanity from thee, I will leave to 
thine afflicted and orphan people thy bones and thy 
skull so that the}' may be comforted in their sorrow, and 
may consult thy relics as to the road they have to fol- 
low: and in due time the land shall be shown them that 

1 Huitzilopochtli is derived from two -words; huitzilin, Hie humming-bird, 
and opochtli, left, — so called from the left foot of his image being decorated 
■with humming-bird feathers. Clavigero, Sturia Ant. del Messico, torn, ii., pp. 


I have destined for them, a land in which they shall 
hold wide empire, being respected of the other nations. 

Huitziton did according to these instructions, and after 
a sorrowful interview with his people, disappeared, 
carried away by the gods. The weeping Mexicans re- 
mained with the skull and bones of their beloved captain, 
which they carried with them till they arrived in New 
Spain, and at the place where they built the great city 
of Tenochtitlan, or Mexico. All this time the devil 
spoke to them through this skull of Huitziton, often asking 
for the immolation of men and women, from which 
thing originated those bloody sacrifices, practiced after- 
wards by this nation with so much cruelty on prisoners 
of war. This deity was called, in earl}' as well as in 
later times, Huitzilopochtli, — for the principal men be- 
lieved that he was seated at the left hand of Tezcatlipoca, 
— a man derived from the original name Huitziton, and 
from the word mapoche, 'left hand.' 2 

Acosta gives a minute description of the image and 
temple of this god : — 

"The chiefest idoll of Mexico was, as I have sayde, 
Titziliputzli. It was an image of wood like to a man, 
set vpon a stoole of the colour of azure, in a brankard or 
litter, at every corner was a piece of wood in forme of a 
Serpent's head. The stoole signified that he was set in 
heaven: this idoll hadde all the forehead azure, and bad 
a band of azure vnder the nose from one eare to another: 
vpon his head he had a rich plume of feathers, like to 
the beake of a small bird, the which was covered on the 
toppe with golde burnished very browne: heehad in his 
left hand a white target, with the figures of five pine 
apples, made of white feathers, set in a crosse: and from 
above issued forth a crest of gold, and at his sides bee 
hadde foure dartes, which (the Mexicaines say) had 
beene sent from heaven to do those actes and prowesses 
which shall be spoken of: in his right hand be had an 
azured staffe, cutte in fashion of a waving snake. All 
those ornaments with the rest hee had, carried his so nee 

2 Boturini, Idea de una Hid., pp. GO— 1 . 


as the Mexicaines doe shew; the name of Vitziliputzli 
signifies the left hand of a shining feather. I will 
speake heereafter of the prowde Temple, the sacrifices, 
feasts and ceremonies of this great idoll, being very 
notable things. But at this present we will only shew, 
that this idoll thus richly appareled and deckt, was set 
vpon an high Altare, in a small peece or boxe, well 
covered with linnen clothes, Jewells, feathers and orna- 
ments of golde, with many rundles of feathers, the fairest 
and most exquisite that could be found : hee had alwaies 
a curtine before him for the greater veneration. Iovning 
to the chamber or chappell of this idoll, there was a 
peece of lesse worke, and not so well beautified, where 
there was another idoll they called Tlaloc. These two 
idolls were alwaves together, for that they held them as 
companions, and of equal power. 

There was in Mexico, this Cu, the famous Temple 
of Vitziliputzli, it had a very great circuite, and within 
a faire Court. It was built of great stones, in fashion of 
snakes tied one to another, and the circuite w T as called 
Coatepantli. which is, a circuite of snakes: vppon the 
toppe of every chamber and oratorie where the Idolls 
were, was a fine piller wrought with small stones, blacke 
as ieate, set in goodly order, the ground raised vp with 
white and red, which below gave a great light. Ypon 
the top of the pillar were battlements very artificially 
made, wrought like snailes [caracoles] , supported by two 
Indians of stone, sitting, holding candlesticks in their 
hands, the which were like Croisants garnished and en- 
riched at the ends, with yellow and greene feathers and 
long fringes of the same. AYithin the circuite of this 
court, there were many chambers of religious men, and 
others that were appointed for the service of the Priests 
and Popes, for so they call the soveraigne Priests which 
serve the Idoll. 

There were foure gates or entries, at the east, west, 
north, and south; at every one of these gates beganne a 
faire cawsey of two or three leagues long. There was in 
the midst of the lake where the cittie of Mexico is built, 


foure large cawseies in crosse, which did much beautify 
it; vpon every portall or entry, was a God or Idoll, 
having the visage turned to the causey, right against 
the Temple gate of Yitziliputzli. There were thirtie 
steppes of thirtie fadome long, and they divided from 
the circuit of the court by a streete that went betwixt 
them ; vpon the toppe of these steppes there was a walke 
thirtie foote broad, all plaistered with chalke, in the 
midst of which walke was a Pallisado artificially made 
of very high trees, planted in order a fadome one from 
another. These trees were very bigge, and all pierced 
with small holes from the foote to the top. and there 
were roddes did runne from one tree to another, to the 
which were chained or tied many dead mens heades. 
Ypon every rod were twentie sculles, and these ranches 
of sculles continue from the foote to the toppe of the tree. 
This Pallissado was full of dead mens sculls from one 
end to the other, the which was a wonderfull mourne- 
full sight and full of horror. These were the heads of 
such as had beene sacrificed; for after they were dead, 
and had eaten the flesh, the head was delivered to the 
Ministers of the Temple, which tied them in this sort 
vntil they fell off by morcells ; and then had they a care 
to set others in their places. Ypon the toppe of the 
temple were two stones or chappells, and in them were 
the two Idolls which I have spoken of, Yitziliputzli, and 
his companion Tlaloc. These Chappells were carved and 
graven very artificially, and so high, that to ascend vp to 
it, there was a staire of stone of sixscore steppes. Before 
these Chambers or Chappells, there was a Court of fortie 
foote square, in the midst thereof, was a high stone of 
fixe hand breadth, poynted in fashion of a Pyramide, it 
was placed there for the sacrificing of men; for being- 
laid on their backes, it made their bodies to bend, and 
so they did open them and pull out their hearts, as I 
shall shew heereafter. :J 

3 Acosta, Hist. Nat. Tnd., pp. 352-3, 361-3. Acosta gives a description of 
the wanderings of the Mexicans and how their god Vitziliputzli, directed and 
guided them therein, much as the God of Israel directed his people, across 
the wilderness to the Promised Land. Tradition also tells, how he him- 


Solis describes this temple also: — 

The top of the truncated pyramid on which the idols 
of Huitzilopochtli and Tlaloc were placed was forty feet 
square, and reached by a stair of a hundred and twenty 
steps. On this platform, on either hand, at the head of 
the stairs, stood two sentinel-statues supporting great can- 
dlesticks of an extraordinary fashion. And first, from 
the jasper flags, rose a hump-backed altar of green stone. 
Opposite and bej-ond was the chapel wherein behind 
curtains sat Huitzilopochtli, on a throne supported by a 
blue globe. From this, supposed to represent the heav- 
ens, projected four staves with serpents' heads, by which 
the priests carried the god when he was brought 
before the public. The image bore on its head a bird of 
wrought plumes whose beak and crest were of burnished 
gold. The feathers expressed horrid cruelty and were 
made still more ghastly by two stripes of blue one on the 
brow and the other on the nose. Its right hand leaned 
as on a staff upon a crooked serpent. Upon the left arm 
was a buckler bearing live white plums, arranged in form 
of a cross; and the hand grasped four arrows venerated 
as heaven-descended. To the left of this was another 
chapel, that of Tlaloc. Now these two chapels and idols 
were the same in every particular. These gods were 
esteemed brothers — their attributes, qualities, powers, 
inclinations, service, prayers, and so on, were identical 
or interchangeable/ 

Sahagun says of Huitzilopochtli, that, being originally 
a man, he was a sort of Hercules, of great strength and 
warlike, a great destroyer of towns and slayer of men. 

self revealed that manner of sacrifice most acceptable to his will: — some of 
the priests having overnight offended him, lo, in the morning, they were 
all dead men; their stomachs being cut open, and their hearts pulled out; 
which rites in sacrifice were thereupon adopted tor the service of that deity, 
and retained until their rooting out by the stern Spanish husbandry, so veil 
adapted to such foul and bloody tares. Purchas, Ills PUgi'imes, vol. iv., pp. 

4 Solis, Hist. Conq. Mex., torn, i., pp. 39G-S. This writer says: ' The Spanish 
soldiers called this idol Huchilobos, by a corrupt pronunciation: so too Bernal 
Di iz del Castillo writes it Authors differ much in describing this magnifi- 
cent building. Antonio de Herrera follows Francisco Lopez de Gcmara too 
closely. We shall follow Father Josef de Acosta and the better informed 
authors.' Id., p. 395. 


In war he had been a living fire, very terrible to his 
adversaries; and the devise he bore was a dragon's head, 
fmhtful in the extreme, and casting fire out of its 
mouth. A great wizard he had been, and sorcerer, trans- 
forming himself into the shape of divers birds and beasts. 
While he lived, the Mexicans esteemed this man very 
highly for his strength and dexterity in war, and when 
he died they honored him as a god, offering slaves, and 
sacrificing them in his presence. And they looked to it 
that those slaves were well fed and well decorated with 
such ornaments as were in use, with ear-rings and visors; 
all for the greater honor of the god. In Tlaxcala also 
the\' had a deity, called Camaxtli, who was similar to 
this Huitzilopochtli. 5 

Gage, in a pretty fair translation of Herrera, describes 
this god with Tezcatlipoca. lie says: — 

" The gods of Mexico (as the Indians reported to the 
first Spaniards) were two thousand in number; the 
chiefest were Yitzilopuchtli, and Tezcatlipoca, whose 
images stood highest in the temple upon the altars. 
They were made of stone in full proportion as big as 
a giant. They were covered with a lawn called Na- 
car; they were beset with pearls, precious stones, and 
pieces of gold, wrought like birds, beasts, fishes, and 
flowers, adorned with emeralds, turquies, chalcedons, 
and other little fine stones, so that when the lawn was 
taken away, the images seemed very beautiful and glorious 
to behold. These two Indian idols had for a girdle great 
snakes of gold, and for collars or chains about their 
necks ten hearts of men made of gold ; and each of them 
had a counterfeit visor with eyes of glass, and in their 
necks Death painted. These two gods were brethren, 
for Tezcatlipoca was the god of providence, and Yitzilo- 
puchtli, god of the wars, who was worshiped and feared 
more than all the rest." G 

Torquemada goes to some length into the legend 

5 Sahagun, Hist. Gen., torn, i., lib. i., p. i. 

6 Gage's New Survey, pp. 11G-7; Herrera, Hist. Gen., torn, i., dec. ii., 
lib. vii., cap. xvii. 


and description of this god of war, Huitzilopochtli, or 
Mexitl : 7 — 

Huitzilopochtli, the ancient god and guide of the 
Mexicans, is a name variously derived. Some say it is 
composed of two words: huitzilin, ' a humming-bird', and 
tlahuipuchtli, 'a sorcerer that spits fire/ Others say that 
the second part of the name comes not from tlahuipucht- 
li, but from opucktli, that is, 'the left hand;' so that the 
whole name. Huitzilopochtli, would mean l the shining- 
feathered left hand.' For this idol was decorated with 
rich and resplendent feathers on the left arm. And 
this god it was that led out the Mexicans from their own 
land and brought them into Anahuac. 

Some held him to be a purely spiritual being, others 
affirmed that he had been born of a woman, and related 
his history after the following fashion: Near the city of 
Tulla there is a mountain called Coatepec, that is to say 
the Mountain of the Snake, where a woman lived, named 
Coatlicue, or Snake-petticoat. She was the mother of 
many sons called Centzunhuitznahua, and of a daughter 
whose name was Coyolxauhqui. Coathcue was very 
devout and careful in the service of the gods, and she 
occupied herself ordinarily in sweeping and cleaning the 
sacred places of that mountain. It happened that one 
day, occupied with these duties, she saw a little ball of 
feathers floating down to her through the air, which she 
taking, as we have already related, found herself in a 
short time pregnant. 8 

Upon this all her children conspired against her to 

7 ' Pero los mismos Natnrales afirman, que este Nombre tomaron de el 
Dios Principal, que ellos traxeron, el qual tenia dos N ombres, el uno Huit- 
ziloptichtli, y el otro Mexitly, y este segundo, quiere decir Ombligo de 
Maguey/ Torquemada, Monarq. Tad., torn, i., p. '293. 

8 ' Acontecio, pues, vn dia, que estando barriendo, come acostumbraba, 
vio bajar por el Aire, una pelota pequeria, hecha de plumas, a manera de 
ovillo, hecho de hilado, que se le vino a los manos, la qual tomo, y metio 
entre los Naliuas, 6 Faldellin, y la came, debajo de la faja que le ceiiia el 
cuerpo (porque siempre traen fajado este genero de vestido) no imaginando 
ningun misterio, ni tin de aquel caso. Acabo de barrer, y busco la pelota 
de pluma, para ver de que podria aprovecharla en servicio de sas Dioses, y 
no la hall'). Quedo de esto admirada, y mueho mas de conocer en si, que 
desde acnud punto se avia lieclio prenada.' Torquemada, Monarq. Ind., torn, 
ii., pp. 41-2. 


slay her, and came armed against her, the daughter 
Coyolxauhqui being the ringleader and most violent 
of all. Then, immediately, Huitzilopochtli was born, 
fully armed, having a shield called teuehudi in his left 
hand, in his right a dart, or long blue pole, and all his 
face barred over with lines of the same color. His fore- 
head was decorated with a great tuft of green leathers, 
his left leg was lean and feathered, and both thighs and 
the arms barred with blue. He then caused to appear 
a serpent made of torches, teas, called xwhcoatl: and 
he ordered a soldier named Tochaucalqui to light this 
serpent, and taking it with him, to embrace Coyolxauh- 
qui. From this embrace the matricidal daughter imme- 
diately died, and Huitzilopochtli himself slew all her 
brethren and took their spoil, enriching his mother 
therewith. After this hew r as surnamed Tetzahuitl. that 
is to say, Fright, or Amazement, and held as a god . horn 
of a mother, without a father, — as the great god of bat- 
tles, for in these his worshipers found him very favor- 
able to them. Besides the ordinary image of this god, 
permanently set up in the great temple of Mexico, 
there was another, renewed every year, made of grains 
and seeds of various kinds. In one of the halls in the 
neighborhood of the temple the priests collected and 
ground up with great devotion a mass of seeds, of the ama- 
ranth and other plants, moistening the same with the 
blood of children, and making a douuh thereof, which 
they shaped into a statue of the form and stature of a 
man. The priests carried this image to the temple and 
the altar, previously arranged for its reception, playing 
trumpets and other instruments, and making much noise 
and ado with dancing and singing at the head of the 
procession. All this during the night; in the morning 
the high-priest and the other priests blessed and conse- 
crated the image, with such blessing and consecration as 
were in use among them. This done, and the people 
assembled, every person that could come at the image 
touched it wherever he could, as Christians touch a relic, 
and made offerings thereto, of jewels of gold and pre- 


cious stones, each according to his means and devotion, 
sticking the said offerings into the soft fresh dough of 
which the idol was confected. After this ceremony 
no one was allowed to touch the image any more, nor to 
enter the place where it was, save only the high-priest. 
After that they brought out the image of the god Pay- 
nalton, 9 — who is also a war god. being vicar or sub-cap- 
tain of the said Huitzilopochtli, — an image made of 
wood. It was carried in the arms of a priest who rep- 
resented the god Quetzalcoatl, and who was decorated 
with ornaments rich and curious. Before this priest 
there marched another carrying [the image of] a great 
snake, large and thick, twisted and of many coils. The 
procession filed along at great length, and here and there 
at various temples and altars the priests offered up sacri- 
fices, immolating human captives and quails. The 
first station, or stopping-place, was at the ward of Teot- 
lachco. Thence the cortege passed to Tlatelulco (where 
I, Torquemada, am now writing this history) ; then to 
Popotlan; then to Chapultepec — nearly a league from 
the city of Mexico; then to Tepetoca; then to A each i- 
nanco; then back again to the temple whence it had set 
out; and then the image of Paynalton was put on the 
altar where stood that of Huitzilopochtli, being left there 
with the banner, called ezpaniztli, that had been carried 
before it during the march : onlv the great snake, men- 
tioned above, was carried away and put in another place, 

9 This Paynalton, or Paynal, was a kind of deputy-god, or substitute for 
Huitzilop 'ditli; ust-d in cases of urgent haste aud immediate emergency, 
where perhaps it might he thought there was not time for the lengthened 
ceremonies necessary to the invocation of the greater war deity. Sahagun 's 
account of Paynal is concise, and will throw light on the remarks of 
Torquem ida, as given above in the text. Sahagun says, in effect: This god 
Paynal was a land of sub-captain to Huitzilopochtli. The latter, as chief- 
captain, dictated the deliberate undertaking of war against any province: the 
former, as vicar to the other, served when it became unexpectedly necessary to 
t live up arms and make front hurriedly against an enemy. Then it was that 
Paynal — whose mime means 'swift, or hurried,' — when living on earth set 
out in person to stir up the people to repulse the enemy. Upon his death 
he was deified and a festival appointed in his honor. In this festival, his 
image, richly decorated, was carried in a long procession, every one, bearer 
of the idol or not, running as fast as he could; all of which represented the 
promptness that is many times necessary to resist the assault of a foe attack- 
ing by surprise or ambuscade. Sahagun, Hist. Gen., torn, i., lib. i., p. 2. 


to which it belonged. And at all these places where 
the procession appeared, it was received with incensings, 
sacrifices, and other ceremonies. 

This procession finished, it having occupied the great- 
er part of the day, all was prepared for a sacrifice. The 
king himself acted the part of priest; taking a censer, 
he put incense therein with certain ceremonies and in- 
censed the image of the god. This done, they took down 
again the idol, Paynalton, and set out in march, those 
going in front that had to be sacrificed, together with all 
things pertaining to the fatal rite. Two or three times 
they made the circle of the temple, moving in horrid 
cortege, and then ascended to the top, where they slew 
the victims; beginning with the prisoners of war, and 
finishing with the fattened slaves, purchased for the 
occasion, rending out their hearts and casting the same 
at the feet of the idol. 

All through this day the festivities and the rejoicings 
continued, and all the day and night the priests watched 
vigilantly the dough statue of Huitzilopochtli. so that no 
oversight or carelessness should interfere with the venera- 
tion and service due thereto. Early next day they took 
down said statue and set it on its feet in a hall. In- 
to this hall there entered the priest, called after Quet- 
zalcoatl, who had carried the image of Paynalton in his 
arms in the procession, as before related; there entered 
also the king, with one of the most intimate servants, 
called Tehua, of the god Huitzilopochtli, four other 
great priests, and four of the principal youths, called 
Telpochtlatoque, out of the number of those that had 
charge of the other youths of the temple. These men- 
tioned, and these alone, being assembled, the priest 
named after Quetzalcoatl took a dart tipped with flint 
and hurled it into the breast of the statue of dou^h, 
which fell on receiving the stroke. This ceremony was 
styled, ' killing the god Huitzilopochtli so that his body 
might be eaten.' Upon this the priests advanced to 
the fallen image and one of them pulled the heart out of 
it, and gave the same to the king. The other priests 


cut the pasty body into two halves. One half was given 
to the people of Tlatelulco, who parted it out in crumbs 
among all their wards, and specially to the young 
soldiers, — no woman being allowed to taste a morsel. 
The other half was allotted to the people of that part of 
Mexico called Tenochtlitlan ; it was divided anion 2: the 
four wards, Teopan, Atzaqualco, Quepopan, and Mojot- 
lan ; and given to the men, to both small and great, even 

O CD 1 

to the men-children in the cradle. All this ceremony 
was called teoqudb, that is to say, ' god is eaten,' and 
this making of the dough statue and eating of it was re- 
newed once every } T ear. 10 

Closely as J. G. Muller studied the character of Quet- 
zalcoatl, his examination of that of Iluitzilopochth, has 
been still more minute and was indeed the subject of a 
monograph published by him in 1847. A student of 
the subject cannot afford to overlook this study, and I 
translate the more important parts of it in the paragraphs 
which follow; not, indeed, either for or against the in- 
terests of the theory it supports, but for the sake of the 
accurate and detailed handling, rehandling, and group- 
ing there, by a master in this department of mythologi- 
cal learning, of almost all the data relating to the matter 
in hand: — 

Huitzilopochtli has been already referred to as an orig- 
inal 2,od of the air and of heaven. He agrees also with 
Quetzalcoatl in a second capital point, in having be- 
come the anthropomorphic national god of the Aztecs, 
as Quetzalcoatl of the Toltecs. On their marches and 
in their wars, in the establishment of codes and towns, 
in happiness as well as in misfortune, the Aztecs were 
guided by his oracle, by the spirit of his being. As the 
Toltecs, especially in their later national character, 
differ from the Aztecs, so differ their two chief national 
gods. If the capital of the Toltecs, Cholula, resembled 
modern Rome in its religious efforts, so the god enthroned 
there was transformed into the human form of a high- 
priest, in whom this people saw his human ideal. In 

10 Torquemada, Monarq. lad., torn, i., p. 293, torn, ii., pp. -il-3, 71-3. 


tlie same manner one might be led to compare the capi- 
tal of the Aztecs with ancient Rome, on account of its 
warlike spirit, and therefore it was right to make the 
national god of the Aztecs a war god like the Roman 

We will commence with the name of the god, which, 
according to Sahagun, Acosta, Torquemada, and most of 
the writers, signifies ' on the left side a humming-bird ;' 
from liu'tztibi, 'a humming-bird,' and qpochtli, 'left.' 
In connecting the Aztec words, the ending is cut off. 
The image of the god had in reality, frequently, the 
feathers of the humming-bird on the left foot. The con- 
nection of this bird with the god is, in many ways, ap- 
propriate. It no doubt appeared to them as the most 
beautiful of birds, and as the most worthy representant 
of their chief deity. Does not its crest glitter like a 
crown set with rubies and all kinds of precious stones? 
The Aztecs have accordingly, in their way, called the 
humming-bird, l sun-beam,' ' or sun-hair ;' as its alighting 
upon flowers, is like that of a sun-beam. The chief god 
of the Garibs, Juluca, is also decorated with a band 
of its feathers round the forehead. The ancient Mexi- 
cans had, as their most noble adornment, state-mantles 
of the same feathers, so much praised by Cortes; and 
even at the present time the Aztec women adorn their 
ears with these plumes. This humming-bird decoration 
on the left foot of the god was not the only one; he 
had also a green bunch of plumage upon his head, shaped 
like the bill of a small bird. The shield in his left hand 
was decorated with white feathers, and the whole image 
was at times covered with a mantle of feathers. To 
the general virtues which make comprehensible the 
humming-bird attribute as a divine one, must be added 
the special virtue of bravery peculiar to this bird, which 
is specially suited to the war god. The English trav- 
eler Bullock tells how this bird distinguishes itself 
for its extraordinary courage, attacking others ten 
times its own size, flying into their eyes, and using 
its sharp bill as a most dangerous weapon. Noth- 


ing more daring can be witnessed than its attack upon 
other birds of its own species, when it fears disturbance 
during the breeding-season. The effects of jealousy 
transform these birds into perfect furies, the throat 
swells, the crest on their head, the tail, and the wings 
are expanded ; they fight whistling in the air, until one 
of them Mis exhausted to the ground. That such a 
martial spirit should exist in so small a creature 
shows the intensity of this spirit; and the religious 
feeling is the sooner aroused, when the instrument of a 
divine power appears in so trifling and weak a body. 
The small but brave and warlike woodpecker stood in a 
similar relation to Mars, and is accordingly termed incus 

This, the most common explanation of the name Huit- 
zilopochtli, as ' humming-bird, left side' is not followed 
by \ eytia, with whom Prichard agrees. He declares 
the meaning of the name to be ' left hand,' from huit- 
zitoc, 'hand,' because Huitzilopochtli, according to the 
fable, after his death, sits on the left side of the god 
Tezcatlipoca. Now, Huitzilopochtli is in another place 
considered as the brother of this god ; he also stands 
higher, and can therefore scarcely have obtained his 
name from his position with respect to the other deity. 
Besides, hand in Aztec is properly translated as maitl, or 

Over and above this attribute which gives the god his 
name, there are others which point towards the concep- 
tion of a war god. Huitzilopochtli had, like Mars and 
Odin, the spear, or a bow, in his right hand, and in 
the left, sometimes a bundle of arrows, sometimes a 
round white shield, on the side of which were the four 
arrows sent him from heaven wherewith to perform 
the heroic deeds of his people. On these weapons de- 
pended the welfare of the state, just as on the ancik 
of the Roman Mars, which had fallen from the sky, or 
on the palladium of the warlike Pallas Athena. 

By-names also point out Huitzilopochtli as war god ; 
for he is called the terrible god, Tetzateotl, or the rag- 


ing, Tetzahuitl. These names he received at his birth, 

when he, just issued from his mother's womb, overthrew 
his adversaries. 

Not less do his connections indicate his warlike nature. 
His youngest brother, Tlacahuepancuextotzin, was also 
a war god, whose statue existed in Mexico, and who re- 
ceived homage, especially in Tezcuco. In still closer 
relationship to him stands his brotlier-in-arms, or, as 
Bernal Diaz calls him, his page, Paynalton, that is, 
'the fleet one;' he was the god of the sudden war 
alarm, tumultus or general levee en masse; his call 
obliged all capable of bearing arms to rush to the de- 
fence. He is otherwise considered as the representant 
of Iluitzilopochtli and subordinate to him, for he was 
only a small image, as Diaz says, and as the ending ion 
denotes. The statue of this little war-crier was always 
placed upon the altar of Iluitzilopochtli, and sometimes 
carried round at his feast. 

Other symbolic attributes establish Iluitzilopochtli as 
the general national god of this warlike people, and sym- 
bolized his personal presence. On the march from the 
ancient home, the priests took their turn, in fours, to 
carry his wooden image, with the little Hag fallen from 
heaven, and the four arrows. The litter, upon which 
the image was carried, was called the l chair of god,' 
teoicpalli, and was a holy box, such as was used among 
the Etruscans and Egyptians, the Greeks and the Ro- 
mans, in Ilium, among the Japanese, among the Mon- 
gols. In America, the Cherokees are also found with 
such an ark. The ark of the covenant carried by the 
Levites through the desert and in battle, was of a simi- 
lar kind. Wherever the Aztecs halted for some time 
during their wanderings, they erected an altar or a 
sacrifice mound to their god, upon which they placed 
this god's-litter with the image; which ancient observ- 
ance they kept up, in later times, in their temples. 
By its side they erected a movable tent, tabernaculum, 
(Stiftshutte), in the open country, as is customary 
among nomadic people, such as the Mongols. The god, 


however, gave them the codes and usages of a cultured 
people, and received offerings of prisoners, hawks, and 

As the head of a sparrow on a human body points to 
the former worship of Quetzalcoatl under the form of 
a sparrow, so the humming-bird attribute on the image 
and in the name of Huitzilopochtli, points him out as an 
original animal god. The general mythological rule, that 
such animal attributes refer to an ancient worship of the 
god in question under the form of an animal, points this 
out in his case, and the special nryth of Huitziton assists 
here in the investigation of the foundation of this origin- 
al nature. 

When the Aztecs still lived in Aztlan, a certain 
Huitziton enjoyed their highest esteem, as the fable 
tells. This Huitziton heard the voice of a bird, which 
cried ( ' tihui," that is ' let us go.' u He thereupon 
asked the people to leave their home, which they ac- 
cordingly did. When we consider the name Huitzi- 
ton. the nature of the story, and the mythical time to 
which it refers, no doubt remains as to who this Huit- 
ziton is supposed to be. It is evident that he is none 
other than the little bird itself, which, in our later form 
of the myth, as an anthropomorphic fable, is separated 
from him; separated euhemeristically, just as the Latin 
Picus was separated from his woodpecker. This Picus, 
whose songs and flight were portentous, was rep- 
resented as a youth with a woodpecker on his head, of 
which he made use for his seer-art; but was originally, 
as denoted by his name, nothing else than a woodpecker, 
which was adored on the wooden pillar from which it 
wnt its sayings. This woodpecker placed itself upon the 
vexillum of the Sabines, and guided them to the region 
which has been named Picenum after it. As this bird 
guided its people to their new abode, like Huitziton, 
so many other animal gods have lead those who, in 
ancient times, sought new homes. Thus a crow con- 
ducted Battus to Cvrene; a dove led the Chalcid- 

11 See this vol., p. G9, note. 


ians to Cyrene; Apollo, in the form of a dolphin, took 
the Cretans to Pytho; Antinous founded a new settle- 
ment, to which a snake had pointed the way; a bull 
carried Cadmus to Thebes; a wolf led the Hirpinians. 
The original stock of the South American people, the 
Mbayas, received the divine order, through the bird Cara- 
cara, to roam as enemies in the territories of other 
people instead of settling down in a fixed habitation — 
this is an anti-culture myth. As the founding of towns 
favors the birth of myths like the proceeding, so also does 
the founding of convents, the sites of which, according 
to the numerous fables of the Christian mediaeval age. 
were pointed out by animals, — one of the remnants of 
old heathenism then existing in the popular fancy. To 
resume the subject, Huitziton is, therefore, the humming- 
bird god, who, as oracular god, commanded the Aztecs 
to emigrate. His name signifies nothing else than ' small 
humming-bird,' the ending ton being a diminutive 
syllable, as in Paynalton. Thus the humming-bird was 
the bearer, at the time of the great flood, of the divine 
message of joy to the Tezpi of the Michoacans, a people 
related to the Aztecs. It had been let loose as the 
water receded, and soon returned with a small twig to 
the ark. 12 On the Catherine Islands [islands of Santa 
Catalina], 13 in California, crows were adored as inter- 
preters of the divine will. From the above it is also 
self-evident that Huitziton and Huitzilopochtli were one, 
which is the conclusion arrived at by the learned re- 
searcher of Mexican languages and traditions, the Italian 
Boturini. The name, myth, and attributes of Huitzilo- 
pochtli point then to the humming-bird. Previous to 
the transformation of this god, by anthropomorphism, 
he was merely a small humming-bird, huitziton) by 
anthropomorphism, the bird became, however, merely 
the attribute, emblem or symbol, and name of the god, 
— a name which changed with his form into ' humming- 
bird on the left,' or Huitzilopochtli. 

12 See this vol. p. 67. 

13 See this vol. p. 131. 

Vol. III. 20 


The identity of the two, in spite of the different ex- 
planations of the name, is accepted by Veytia, who gives 
Huitzitoc as the name of the chief who led the Aztec 
armies daring their last wanderings from Chicomoztoc, or 
the Seven Caves, into Anahnac. Under his leadership 
the Aztecs were everywhere victorious, and for this 
reason he was placed, after his death, on the left side of 
the god Tezcatlipoca ; since which time he was called 

The identity of Huitziton and Hnitzilopochtli, is also 
shown by other facts besides the name, the attribute, and 
the mythological analogy : the same important acts are 
ascribed to both. We have seen that Huitziton com- 
manded the Aztecs to leave their home; according to 
another account of Acosta, this was done on the persua- 
sion of Huitzilopochtli. If other Spanish authors state 
that this was done b} r instigation of the devil, they mean 
none other than Huitzilopochtli, using a mode of speech 
which had become an established one. This name became 
a common title of the devil in Germany, under the form 
of Yizliputzli, soon after the conquest of Mexico, as may 
be seen in the old popular drama of Faust. The fable 
further relates of Huitziton that he taught the Aztecs to 
produce fire by friction, during their wanderings. The 
gift of fire is usually ascribed to a culture-god. Huitzil- 
opochtli was such a deity ; he introduced dress, laws, and 
ceremonies among his people. The statement that Huit- 
ziton had at some time, given fire to the people, has no 
historical meaning; there is no people without lire, and 
a formerly told myth mentions that man made fire even 
before the existence of the present sun. The significa- 
tion of the fable is a religious one, it is a myth in which 
the Aztecs ascribe the origin of all human culture to 
Huitziton their culture-god, afterward Huitzilopochtli. 

This god wore also a band of human hearts and faces 
of gold and silver ; while various bones of dead men, as 
w r ell as a man torn in pieces, were depicted on his dress. 
These attributes like those of the Indian Schiwa and 
Kali, clearly point him out as the god to whom human 


sacrifices were made. It was extensively believed 
among the nations composing the Mexican Empire that 
human sacrifices had been introduced by the Aztecs 
within the last two centuries. Before that time only 
bloodless offerings had been made. A myth places the 
commencement of human sacrifices in the fourteenth 
century, in which the three first successive cases thereof 
are said to have occurred. 

The Colhuas, the ruling nation at that time in the 
valley of Anahuac, are said to have fought a battle with 
their enemies of Xochimilco, which was decided in favor 
of the Colhuas, owing to the impetuous attack made by 
the tributary Aztecs in their aid. AVhile the Colhuas 
were presenting a large number of prisoners before their 
king, the Aztecs had only secured four, whom they kept 
secreted, but exhibited, in token of their bravery, a num- 
ber of ears that they had cut from their slain enemies, 
boasting that the victory would have been much delayed 
had they lost time in making prisoners. Proud of their 
triumph, they erected an altar to Huitzilopochtli, in 
Huitzilopochco, and made known to their lord, the king 
of the Colhuas, that they desired to offer this god a 
costly and worthy sacrifice. The king sent them, by 
the hands of priests, a dead bird, which the messen- 
gers laid irreverently upon the altar, and departed. 
The Aztecs swallowed their chagrin, and set a fra- 
grant herb with a knife of iztli beside the bird. As 
the kina: with his suite arrived at the festival, more 
for the sake of mocking the proceedings than to grace 
them, the four prisoners taken from the Xochimilcos 
were brought out, placed upon the stone of sacrific* , 
their breasts cut open with the iztli, and the palpitating 
heart torn out. This sacrifice brought consternation 
upon the Colhuas, the) 7 discharged the Aztecs from 
their service and drove them away. The Aztecs wan- 
dered for some time about the country, and then, at the 
command of their god, founded the town of Tenoch tit- 
Ian, or Mexico, on a site where they had found a nopal 
(Opuntie) growing upon a rock. 


At the second sacrifice a Colhua was the victim. 
An Aztec was hunting, on the shore of the lake, for an 

C' 7 

animal to offer his patron deity, when he met a Colhua 
called Xomimitl; he attacks him furiously, bears him 
down, and the defeated man is made to bleed upon the 
sacrifice stone. 

Both myths are aitiological, and explained by the 
sacrifice system (Opferkultus). This is shown in the 
case of the four prisoners, of whom we shall learn more 
in the third story. The second story personifies the 
Aztec and the Colhua peoples in the two men, the 
second nation supplying the first with human sacrifices. 
With the sacrifice of Xomimitl, the parallelism of which 
to the four Xochimilos cannot be overlooked by any 
one, the first temple of Huitzilopochtli, in Tenochtitlan, 
was inaugurated. 

The third sacrifice shows still more closely the relig- 
ious basis (Kultusgrundlage) of the myth. Here also, 
as in the former, we have to do with a Colhua. 
The Aztecs offered the Colhua king to show divine 
honors to his daughter and to apotheosize her into the 
mother of their national god, declaring that such was 
the will of the deity. The king, rejoicing at the honor 
intended for his daughter, let her go, and she was 

O / ~ 7 

brought to Tenochtitlan with great pomp. No sooner, 
however, had she arrived than she was sacrificed, flayed, 
and one of the bravest youths dressed in her skin. The 
king was invited to the solemn act of the deification of 
his daughter, and onlv became aware of her death when 

O 7 J 

the flame from the copal gum revealed to him the bloody 
skin about the youth placed at the side of the god. The 
daughter was, however, at once formally declared mother 
of Huitzilopochtli and of all the gods. 

This aitiological cultus-myth is easily explained. 
The name of the daughter is Teteionan, whom we have 
learned to know as the gods' -mother, and as Tocitzin, L our 
grandmother.' u She was never the daughter of a 

u If some of the names and myths, mentioned or alluded to from time to 
time, by Miiller and others, are yet unknown to the reader, he will remem- 


human king, but has been transformed into one by eu- 
hemerism, somewhat as Iphigenia is to be considered as 
originally Artemis. The goddess Teteionan had her 
special festival in Mexico, when a woman, dressed as 
goddess, was sacrificed ; while held on the ?jack of an- 
other woman, her head was cut off, then she was flayed, 
and the skin carried by a youth, accompanied by a 
numerous retinue, as a present to Huitzilopochtli. Four 
prisoners of war were, moreover, previously sacrificed. 

Similar to this story, told by Clavigero, is another, 
narrated by Acosta. According to the latter, Tozi was 
the daughter of the king of Culhuacan, and was made 
the first human sacrifice by order of Huitzilopochtli, who 
desired her for a sister. Tozi is, however, none other 
than Tocitzin, and is also shown to be 'our grandmother.' 
According to the Aztec version, the custom of dressing 
priests in the skin of sacrificed beings dates from her — 
such representations are often seen, especially in Hum- 
boldt ; the Basle collection of Mexican antiquities possesses 
also the stone image of a priest dressed in a human skin. 
The fourth month, Tlacaxipehualitzli, this is, 'to flay a 
man,' derived its name from this custom, which is said to 
have been most frequent at this period of the year. 

Goddesses, or beings representing goddesses, are sacri- 
ficed in both of these fables. We have met with human 
sacrifices among the Muyscasin Central America, and in 
connection with many deities of the Mexicans, in which 
the human victim represents the god to whom he is to 
be sacrificed. Slaves impersonating gods were also 
sacrificed among the northern Indians, the so-called 
Indicts bravos. The person sacrificed is devoured by 
the god, is given over to him, is already part of him, 
is the god himself. Such was the case with the slave 
that personated Quetzalcoatl in the merchants' festival 
in Cholula. 

The critic is only able to admit the relative truth of 

ber the impossibility of any arrangement of these mixed and far-involved 
legends by which, without infinite verbiage, this trouble could be wholly 
obviated. In good time, and with what clearness is possible, the list of gods 
and legends will be made as nearly as may be complete. 


the recentness of the period in which the origin of Mexi- 
can human sacrifices is placed hy these three myths. "We 
already know that human sacrifices are very ancient in 
all America, and that they have only been put aside at a 
few places by humane efforts; as in Peru to some extent 
by means of the Incas. We have met with them through- 
oat all South America. 

The statement so generally made that the Toltec 
Quetzalcoatl preached against human sacrifices, certainly 
implies the previous existence of such sacrifices. This 
statement about Quetzalcoatl also points out the way to 
the assimilation of the varying accounts, fables, and 
myths. In very ancient times human sacrifices pre- 
dominated everywhere. The Toltecs, like the Incas, 
endeavored more or less to abolish them, and, even if not 
altogether successful, they reduced them considerably. 
The Aztecs reintroduced them. In the East Indies, 
these sacrifices date back to the era before the flood, and 
the Greeks there met with remains of anthropophagy, 
the basis thereof. 

Brahmanism sought to exterminate these ancient sac- 
rifices, and the Yedas forbid them, a prohibition which, 
in connection with the custom of pretending to sacrifice 
human beings, gives evidence of a former use of actual 
sacrifices. The later sect of Shiwaits again introduced 

However ancient the national political phase of Huit- 
zilopochtli may be, the nature phase is still older. 
This god, too. has a nature-basis which not only explains 
his being, but throws light upon his further unfolding 
as a national or war god. All searchers who do not 
begin with this basis, see nothing but inexplicable rid- 
dles and contradictions before them. 

This nature-basis is first seen in the myth about his 
birth. In the neighborhood of Tulla there was a place 
called Coatepec, where lived a god-fearing woman, 
called Coatlicae. One day, as she was going to the 
temple, according to her custom, a gaily colored ball of 
feathers fell down from heaven; she picked it up, and 


hid it in her bosom, intending to decorate the altar 
therewith. As she was on the point of producing it for 
this purpose, it could not be found. A few days after- 
ward she was aware of being pregnant. Her children, the 
Centzunhuitznahuas, also noticed this, and, in order to 
avoid their own disgrace, they determined to kill her be- 
fore she was delivered. Her sorrow was however, mirac- 
ulously consoled by a voice that made itself heard from 
within her womb, saying: Fear not, mother, I will save 
thee to thy great honor, and to my great fame! The 
brothers, urged on by their sister, were on the point of 
killing her, when, behold, even as the armed Athena 
sprang from her father's head, Huitzilopochtli was born; 
the shield in his left hand, the spear in his right, the 
green plumage on his head, and humming-bird feathers 
on his left leg; his face, arms, and legs being, moreover, 
striped with blue. At once he slew his opponents, 
plundered their dwellings, and brought the spoils to his 
mother. From this he was called Terror and the Fright- 
ful God. 

If we dissect this myth, we notice that another mother 
appears than the one formerly sacrificed in his honor, Te- 
teionan. Two mothers present nothing remarkable in 
mythology, I have only to mention Aphrodite and Athena, 
who according to different accounts, had different fathers. 
So long as the formation of nrythsgoes on, founded upon 
fresh conceptions of nature, somewhat different ideas 
(for wholly different, even here, the two mothers are 
not) from distinct points of view, are always possible. 
It is the anthropomorphism of the age that fixes on the 
one-sided conclusion. Teteionan is Huitzilopochtli 7 s 
mother, because she is the mother of all the gods. The 
mother, in this instance, is the Flora of the Aztecs, eu- 
hemerized into a god-fearing woman, Coatlicue, or Coat- 
lantana, of wdiose worship in Coatepec and Mexico we 
we have already spoken. 

The second point prominent in the myth, is the 
close connection of Huitzilopochtli with the botanical 
kingdom. The humming-bird is the messenger of 


spring, sent by the south to the north, by the hot to 
the temperate region. It is the means of fructifying the 
flowers, its movements causing the transfer of the pol- 
len from the stamens to the germ-shells. It sticks its 
long, thin little bill deep into the flower, and rummag- 
ing beneath the stamens, drinks the nectar of the flower, 
while promoting the act of plant-reproduction. In the 
Latin myth also, Mars stands in close connection with 
Flora: Juno gives him birth with Flora's aid, without 
the assistance of Jupiter. In our mythology of the 
north, Thor is on a friendly footing with Nanna, the 
northern Flora. TTe are already acquainted also with 
a fable of the Pimas, according to which the goddess of 
maize became pregnant by a raindrop, and bore the 
forefather of the people, he who built the great houses. 

The question, why Huitzilopochtli should be the son 
of the goddess of plants, and what his real connec- 
tion with the botanical kingdom consists in, is solved by 
examining his worship at the three ancient yearly feasts, 
which take place exactfy at those periods of the year 
that are the most influential for the Mexican climate, 
the middle of May, the middle of August, and the end 
of December. As a rule, in the first half of May 
the rain begins. Previous to this, the greatest drought 
and torpid ness reign; the plants appear feeble and droop- 
ing; nature is bare, the earth gray with dry, withered 
grass. After a few days of rain, however, the trees 
appear in a fresh green, the ground is covered with new 
herbs, all nature is reanimated. Trees, bushes, plants, 
develop their blossoms; a vapory fragrance rises over all. 
The fruit shoots from the cultivated field, the juic}-, 
bright green of the maize refreshes the eye. Muhlen- 
pforclt, who stayed a long time in these regions, gives this 
description of the season. A T olker's statement that rain 
and water stand as fructifying principles in the first 
rank in ancient physics, and that they meet us in innu- 
merable myths, holds doubly good for the tropics. It 
requires little imagination to understand what a power- 
ful impression transformed nature, with all its beauty 


and blessings, must produce in the soul of the child of 
nature. It is on this account that the ancient Tlaloc 
came to enjoy so high a regard among the Aztecs, nor 
has Quetzalcoatl disdained to adorn his mantle with the 
crosses of a rain-god. And so Huitzilopochtli's first feast 
of the year, the festival of the arrival of the god, of the 
offering of incense, stands at the beginning of the 
season of the remvigorating of nature by the rain. The 
pagan Germans used to say that Nerthus, Freja, Hulda, 
Bertha, Frieg, and other divinities, entered the country 
at this period. The Aztecs prepared especially for this 
feast an image of their chief god, made of edible plants 
and honey, of the same size as the wooden image ; and 
the youths sang the deeds of their god before it, and 
hymns praying for rain and fertility. Offering of multi- 
tudes of quails, incense-burning, and the significant dance 
of priests and virgins, followed. The virgins, who on this 
day were called sisters of Huitzilopochtli, wore garlands 
of dry maize-leaves on their heads, and carried split 
reeds in their hands; by this representing the dry sea- 
son. The priests, on the contrary, represented the 
quickened nature, having their lips smeared with honey. 
Xow although, according to Max vonWied, there were 
no bees in America before the arrival of the Europeans, the 
bees are here represented by humming-birds, also called 
honey or bee birds, which, hovering and humming like 
bees, gather their food from the tube-shaped flowers. 
This food consists of a small insect that lives on honey, 
and they feed their young by letting them suck at the 
tongue covered with this honey. The priests bore, 
further, another symbol of spring: each one held a staff 
in his hand, on which a flower of feathers was fixed, 
having another bunch of feathers fixed over it ; thus too, 
Freya's hawk-plumage denoted the advent of the fine 
season. A prisoner had been selected a year in advance 
as a victim, and was called l wise lord of the heaven,' for 
he personated the god, and had the privilege of choosing 
the hour of the sacrifice; he did not die, like the other 
prisoners, on the sacrilice stone, but on the shoulders of 


the priests. The little children were consecrated to the 
god of their country, at this festival, by a small incision 
on the breast. 

So also Mars appears as god of spring, he to whom the 
grass and the sacred spring time of the birth of animals 
( cer sacrum) were dedicated, whose chief festival and 
whose month are placed at the commencement of spring, 
at which time the Salii also sang their old religious songs, 
and a man personated the god. The Tyrian festival of 
the awaking of Hercules fell also in spring, for the same 
reason. Thus, in the myth of the birth of Huitzilo- 
pochtli, and in his first festival, spring, or the energy that 
produces spring, is made the basis of his being. His 
warlike attributes are appendages of the anthropomor- 
phized national and war god. 

The second great festival of the deity takes place in 
the middle of August. The rains which have lasted 
and refreshed up to this time, become intermittent, and 
the fine season approaches, during which the azure sky of 
the tropics pours its splendor and its beneficial warmth 
upon men. animals, and plants, scattered over a plain 
situated 8500 feet above the level of the sea. This is 
the twelfth month there, the month of ripe fruits. The 
idols in all temples and dwellings are decorated with 
flowers. It is now no longer the rain which is the bless- 
ing, but the blue sky which cherishes the variegated 
flower- world. For this reason the image of Huitzilo- 
pochtli was blue, his head was wound round with an azure 
ribbon, in his right hand he held an azure staff or club, 
and lie sat on an azure stool, which, according to ancient 
accounts, represents heaven as his dwelling-place. His 
arms and legs had also blue stripes, and costly blue 
stones hung round his neck. The Egyptian god of fer- 
tility. Khein, was also represented in blue. 

The third festival of Huitzilopochtli takes place dur- 
ing the winter solstice, a period which plays a great role 
in all worships and myths. The best-known festival of 
this kind is the one held on the 25th of December 
throughout the Roman Empire, to celebrate the birth of 


Mithras, the invincible sun. The Chipewas in North 
America call December the month of the small spirit, 
and January that of the great spirit. The Mexican fes- 
tival of this month represented the character of the enter- 
ing season, and the new state of nature. The cold sets 
in, the mountains are covered with snow, the ground 
dries up, the plants search in vain for their nourishment, 
many trees lose their foliage — in a word, nature seems 
dead. And so it happened with their god. The priests 
prepared his image of various seeds kneaded with the 
blood of sacrificed children. Numerous religious purify - 
ings and penances, washings with water, blood-lettings, 
fasts, processions, burning of incense, sacrifices of quails 
and human beings, inaugurated the festival. One of 
Quetzalcoatl's priests then shot an arrow at this image 
of Huitzilopochtli, which penetrated the god who was 
now considered as dead. His heart was cut out, as 
with human victims, and eaten by the king, the repre- 
sentative of the god on earth. The body, however, was 
divided among the various quarters of the city, so that 
every man received a piece. This was called teoquah l the 
god who is eaten.' 

The meaning of the death of this god is, on the whole, 
evident ; it corresponds with the death of vegetation ; and 
a comparison of the myth of his birth, with the two 
other feasts of Huitzilopochtli, leads to the same conclu- 
sion. This third feast is, therefore, at the same time, a 
festival in honor of the brother of this god, Tezcatlipoca, 
ihe god of the under- world, of death, of drought, and of 
hunger, whose rule commences where that of his brother 
ends. The myth gives a similar form and sense to the 
death of Osiris, who is killed by Typhon, and the death 
of Hionysos and Hercules in the Phoenician colonies. 
Adonis lives with Aphrodite during one half of the year, 
and with Persephone the other half; the Indian Krish- 
na leaves for the under-world ; thus, too, Brahma and the 
Celtic sun-god, Hu, died yearly, and were yearly born 
again. The festival of the self-burning of the Tyrian 
Heracles is also of this kind ; it takes place at the time 


of the dying off of vegetation, even if this should be in 
the summer. 

As regards the custom of eating the god, this also 
occurs at another feast which is celebrated during this 
season, in honor of the gods of the mountains and the 
water. Small idols of seeds and dough were then pre- 
pared, their breasts were opened like those of human vic- 
tims, the heart was cut out, and the body distributed for 
eating. The time at which this occurs, shows that it 
stands in necessary connection with the death of the god. 
When the god dies it must be as a sacrifice in the fashion 
of his religion, and when the anthropomorphized god 
dies, it is as a human sacrifice amid all the necessary 
usages pertaining thereto: he is killed by priests, the 
heart is torn out, and his body eaten at the sacrifice 
meal, just as was done with every human sacrifice. 
Could it be meant that the god, in being eaten, is im- 
parted to, or incorporated with, the person eating him ? 
This is no doubt so, though not in the abstract, meta- 
physical. Christian or moral sense, but only with regard 
to his nature-sense, (seiner Naturseite), which is the real 
essence of the god. He gives his bod} T , in seed, to be 
eaten by his people, just as nature, dying at the approach 
of the winter, at this very period, has stored up an 
abundance of its gifts for the sustenance of man. It 
gives man its life-fruit, or its fruit of life as a host or 
holy wafer. As a rule, the god, during the time of sac- 
rifice, regales with the offering those bringing sacrifices; 
and, the eating of the flesh of the slave, who so often 
represents the god to whom he is sacrificed, is the same 
as eating the god. Vse have heard of the custom among 
some nations of eating the ashes of their forefathers, to 
whom they give divine honors, in order to become pos- 
sessors of their virtues. The Arkansas nation, west of 
the Mississippi, which worshiped the dog, used to eat 
dog-flesh at one of its feasts. Many other peoples 
solemnly slaughter animals, consume their flesh, and 
moreover pay divine honors to the remains of these ani- 
mals. Here the eating of the god, in seeds, is made 


clear — this custom also existed among the Greeks. The 
division of the year-god by the ancients, in myth and 
religious system, has, for the rest, no other sense than 
has this distribution of the body of Huitzilopochtli. This 
is done with the sun-bull at the festival of the Persian 
Mithras, as at the feast, and in the myth of the Diony- 
sos-Zagreus, of Osiris and Attys. 

The three yearly festivals, as well as the myth of his 
birth, all tend to show the positive connection of Huit- 
zilopochtli with the yearly life of the plant- world. 
The first festival is the arrival of the god, as the plant- 
world is ushered in, with its hymns praying for rain, 
its virgins representing the sisters of the god and the 
inimical drought, in the same sense as the brothers and 
sister, especially the latter, are his enemies in the myth 
of his birth, and, as Tezcatlipoca, the god of drought is 
his brother. Brothers and sisters not seldom represent 
parallel contrasts in mythology and worship. The 
second celebration presents the god as the botanical 
kingdom in its splendor, for which reason the Mexicans 
call the humming-bird the sunbeam, from the form as- 
sumed by the god at this time. The humming-bird, 
moreover, takes also his winter sleep, and thus the god 
dies in winter with the plants. The Greenlanders asked 
the younger Egede if the god of heaven and earth ever 
died, and, when answered in the negative, they were 
much surprised, and said that he must surely be a great 
god. This intimate connection with the plant-world is 
also shown in the birth-myth of Huitzilopochtli, who here 
appears as the son of the goddess of plants. It now be- 
comes easier to answer the question of Wuttke: has the 
fable of this birth reference merely to the making a man 
out of a god already existing, or to the actual birth 
of the god? The Aztecs, it is true, were undecided on 
this point, some conceding to him a human existence on 
earth, others investing him with a conciousness of his 
nature being. We, however, answer this question simply, 
from the preceding: the birth of the god is annual, and 
the myth has therefrom invented one birth, said to have 


taken place at some period, while the anthropomorphism 
fables very prettily the transformation into a man. Of 
the former existence of a born god, the myth knows 
nothing, for it is only afterward that it raises the god 
into heaven. It has not, however, come to euhemerism 
in the case of Huitzilopochtli, though it has with Huit- 
ziton. In placing the god in the position of son to the 
plant-goddess, the myth separates his being from that of 
the mother, consequently, Huitzilopochtli is not the plant- 
world himself, however closely he may be related to it. 
This is made clearer by following up the birth-myth, 
which makes him out to be not only the son of Coatlicue, 
but also of the force causing her fructification. The 
variegated ball of feathers which fell from heaven, is 
none other than Huitzilopochtli himself, the little hum- 
ming-bird, which is the means of fructifying the plants, 
and the virile, fructifying nature-force manifested by 
and issuing from him in the spring. He is also born 
with the feather-tuft, and this symbol of the fine season 
never leaves him in any of his forms, it remains his at- 

The Tapuas in South America have, after a similar 
symbolism, the custom, at their yearly seed-sowing 
festivals, of letting some one hana; a bunch of ostrich- 
feathers on his back, the feathers being spread over like 
a wheel. This feather-bunch is their symbol of the fruc- 
tifying power which comes from heaven. Their belief 
that bread falls from heaven into this tuft of feathers is 
thus made clear. In this myth we find the natural basis 
of such a birth-myth. In our northern mythology, 
Neekris, the ball, is, in the same manner, the father of 
Xanna, the northern Flora. That this virile power of 
heaven is made to appear as a ball of feathers, suits the 
humming-bird god. The Esths also imagined their god 
of thunder, as the god of warmth, in the form of a bird. 
In the same sense, doves were consecrated to Zeus, 
in Dodona and Arcadia, and a flying bird is a symbol 
of heaven among the Chinese. This force may, how- 
ever, be symbolized in another form, and give rise to a 


birth-myth of exactly the same kind. Thus, the 
daughter of the god Sangarius, in the Phrygian myth, 
hid in her bosom the fruit of an almond-tree, which had 
grown out of the seed of the child of the earth, Agdistis: 
the fruit disappeared, the daughter became pregnant and 
bore the beautiful boy Attes. According to Arnobius, 
it was the fruit of a pomegranate-tree, which fructified 
Nanna. Among the Chinese, a nymph, called Puzza, 
the nourisher of all living things, became pregnant by 
eating ■ a lotus-flower, and gave birth to a great law- 
giver and conqueror. Danae, again, becomes pregnant 
from the golden shower of Zeus — an easily understood 
symbolism. It is always the virile nature-power, either 
as seen in the sun, or in the azure sky (for which reason 
Huitzilopochtli is called the lord of the heaven, Ochibus 
or Huchilobos), which puts the variegated seed into the 
womb of the plant-world, ' at the same time bringing 
himself forth again, and making himself manifest in the 
plant-world.' This heavenly life-force no sooner finds 
an earthly mother- womb than its triumph is assured, even 
before birth, while developing its bud ; just as the inner 
voice, in the myth, consoled the mother, and protected 
her against all her enemies. It is only after his birth 
that the myth holds Huitzilopochtli as a personal an- 
thropomorphic god. 

This is the natural signification of Huitzilopochtli, 
which we have accepted as the basis of all other devel- 
opments of the god, and for this universal reason, 
namely, that the most ancient heathen gods are nature- 
gods, mythologic rules being followed, and that the pagan 
religion is essentially a nature-worship as well as a poly- 
theism. The special investigation and following up of 
the various virtues have led to the same result. But, 
as this view has not yet been generally accepted in re- 
gard to this god, a few words concerning the union of 
the anthropomorphic national aspect of Huitzilopochtli, 
with his natural one may be added. It has been thought 
necessary to make the martial phase of Huitzilopochtli 
the basis of the others, as with Mars. AVar is, from 


this point of view, a child of spring, because weapons 
are then resumed after the long winter armistice. This 
is not at all the case with Huitzilopochtli, because the 
rainy season, setting in in spring, when the arrival and 
birth of the god are celebrated, renders the soft roads of 
Mexico unsuitable for war expeditions. Wars were 
originally children of autumn, at which time the ripe 
fruits were objects of robbery. But the idea of a war 
and national god is easily connected with the basis of a 
fructifying god of heaven. This chief nature-god may 
either be god of heaven, as Huitzilopochtli, as the rain- 
giving Zeus is made the national god by Homer, to 
whom human sacrifices were brought in Arcadia clown 
to a late period, or he may be a sun-god, like Baal, to 
whom prayers for rain were addressed in Phoenicia, to 
further the growth of the fruit, and who also received 
human sacrifices. The Celtic Hu is also an ethereal 
war god. properly sun -god, who received human sacri- 
fices in honor of the victory of spring; none the less is 
Odin's connection with war, battle, and war horrors; he 
is a fire-god, like Moloch and Shiva, to whom human 
sacrifices were made for fear of famine and failure of 
crops. The apparent basis of such a god has not to be 
considered so much as the point that the people ascribed 
to him the chief government of the course of the year. In 
such a case, the chief ruler also becomes the national god, 
the life of the nation depending immediately on the 
yearly course of nature. Is the nation warlike, then, the 
national god naturally becomes a war god as well. As 
anthropomorphism connects itself with the nature-god 
only at a later period, so does his worship as war god 
and national god. In the case of Mars, as well as of 
Picus and Faunus, the same < succession is followed. 
Mars, for example, is called upon in a prayer which has 
been preserved by Cato, to protect shepherds and flocks, 
and to avert bad weather and misgrowth; Yirgil refers 
to him as a god of plants. In the song of the Arvalian 
brothers, he is called upon as the protector of the flowers. 
Thus, in his case also, the nature side is the basis. The 


Chinese symbolism of the union of the two sides or 
phases, is expressed in such a manner as to make spears 
and weapons representations of the germs of plants. 
This union has already been illustrated among the 
Aztecs, in the humming-bird, the sunbeam which plays 
round the flowers, in whose little body the intensest war 
spirit burns. Among the Egyptians, the beetle was 
placed upon the ring of the warrior, with whom it sig- 
nified world and production. 

It remains to speak of another attribute of Huitzilo- 
pochtli, the snake attribute. Huitzilopochtli is also a 
snake-god. We have already, when treating of the 
snake-worship of the Mayas, referred to the numerous 
snakes with w T hich this god is connected by myth and 
image, and how this attribute was added to the original 
humming-bird attribute, in Coatepec, where the snake- 
goddess (Joatlicue gave him birth. If the snake signi- 
ties, in one case, time, in another, world, and in another 
instance, w r ater, or the yearly rejuvenation of germs and 
blossoms, the eternal circle of nature, domination, sooth- 
saying, — -it is quite proper; for all these qualities are 
found united in the god. Still other qualities, not 
seemingly possessed by him, we pass over, such as a 
connection with the earth and with the healing power, to 
be found in other Mexican gods, or the evil principle, 
which is entirely wanting. Just as the snake changes 
its skin every year, and takes its winter sleep, so does 
Huitzilopochtli, whose mother, Flora, is, therefore, a 
snake-goddess. Even so the snake represents the seed- 
corn in the mysteries of Demeter. In the Sabazii it re- 
presents the fructifying Zeus and the blessing. It is also 
the symbol of productive power and heat, or of life, attri- 
bute of the life-endowing Shiva; among the Egyptians it 
represents the yearly rejuvenation of germs and blossoms. 
The snake Agathodaemon appears with ears of grain and 
poppies, as the symbol of fertility. If the god exhibits 
this nature of his, in spring, in the rain, then the snake 
is a suitable attribute. In India, snakes are genii of 
seas, and the Punjab, whose fertility is assured by the 

Vol. III. 21 


yearly inundations, lias the name of snake lands (Xag- 
akhanda), and claims an ancient worship. The sustain- 
ing water-god. Vishnu, also received the snake attribute. 
Among the Chinese, the water could be represented by 
a snake. The Peruvians call the boa constrictor the 
mother of nature. 

The idea of the yearly renewal of nature is also con- 
nected with that of time forever young, and the Aztecs ; 
therefore, encircle their cycle with a snake as the sym- 
bol of time. The more positive signification which 
the snake, placed by the side of the humming-bird, gives 
to liuitzilopochtli, is that of a soothsaying god, like the 
snake Python among the Greeks. The snake signified 
'king' among the Egyptians, and this suits Huitzilo- 
pochtli also, who ma)' properly enough be considered the 
real king of his people. If, as connected with Huitzilo- 
pochtli, the snake also represents the war god, on ac- 
count of its spirited mode of attack, I cannot with cer- 
tainty say, but the myth as well as the worship places 
it in this relation to the war goddess Athene. Although 
the idea of a national and a war god is not quite obscured 
in the snake attribute, yet the nature side is especially 
denoted by it, as in the southern countries, where snake 
worship prevailed; the reference to the southern nature 
of this god is quite evident in the snake attribute. In 
the north, moisture, represented by the snake, has never 
attained the cosmological import which it has in the hot 
countries of the south. There, the snake rather repre- 
sents an anticosmogonic, or a bad principle. 15 

Mr T) lor, without committing himself to any extent in 
details, yet agrees, as far as he goes, with MuTler. He 
says: ' ; The very name of Mexico seems derived from 
Mexitli, the national war-god, identical or identified 
with the hideous gory Huitzilopochtli. Not to attempt 
a general solution of the enigmatic nature of this inex- 
tricable compound parthenogenetic deity, we may notice 
the association of his principal festival with the winter- 

15 Muller., Ameiikaiusche Urreligionen, pp. 591-G12. 


solstice, when his paste idol was shot through with an 
arrow, and being thus killed, was divided into morsels 
and eaten, wherefore the ceremony was called the teo- 
quah, or ' god-eating.' This, and other details, tend to 
show Huitzilopochtli as originally a nature-deity, whose 
life and death were connected with the year's, while his 
functions of war-god may he of later addition." 10 

Of this festival of the winter solstice the date and 
further particulars are given by the Vatican Codex as 
follows : — 

The name Panquetzaliztli, of the Mexican month that 
began on the first of December, means, being interpreted, 
1 the elevation of banners.' For, on the first day of De- 
cember every person raised over his house a small paper 
flag in honor of this god of battle ; and the captains and 
soldiers sacrificed those that they had taken prisoners in 
war, avIio, before they were sacrificed, being set at 
liberty, and presented with arms equal to their adver- 
saries, were allowed to defend themselves till they 
were either vanquished or killed, and thus sacrificed. 
The Mexicans celebrated in this month the festival of 
their first captain, Vichilopuchitl. They celebrated at 
this time the festival of the wafer or cake. They made a 
a cake of the meal of bledos, which is called tzoalli, and 
having made it, they spoke over it in their manner, 
and broke it into pieces. These the high priest put into 
certain very clean vessels, and with a thorn of maguey, 
which resembles a thick needle, he took up with the 
utmost reverence single morsels, and put them into the 
mouth of each individual, in the manner of a com- 
munion, — and I am willing to believe that these poor 
people have had the knowledge of our mode of com- 
munion or of the preaching of the gospel; or perhaps 
the devil, most envious of the honor of God, may have 
led them into this superstition in order that by this 
ceremony he might be adored and served as Christ our 
Lord. On the twenty-first of December the}' cele- 

lrj Tylor's Prim. Cult., vol. ii., p 279. 


brated the festival of this god, — through whose instru- 
mentality, they say, the earth became again visible after 
it had been drowned with the waters of the deluge : they 
therefore kept his festival during the twenty following 
davs, in which they offered sacrifices to him. 17 

The deity Tlaloc, or Tlalocateuchtli, whom we have 
several times found mentioned as seated beside Huitzilo- 
pochtli in the great temple, was the god of water and 
rain, and the fertilizer of the earth. He was held 
to reside where the clouds gather, upon the highest 
mountain- tops, especially upon those of Tlaloc, Tlascala, 
and Toluca, and his attributes were the thunderbolt, the 
flash, and the thunder. It was also believed that in 
the high hills there resided other gods, subaltern to 
Tlaloc — all passing under the same name, and revered 
not only as gods of water but also as gods of moun- 
tains. The prominent colors of the image of Tlaloc were 
azure and green, thereby symbolizing the various shades 
of water. The decorations of this image varied a good 
deal according to locality and the several fancies of 
different worshipers: the description of Gama, founded 
on the inspection of original works of Mexican religious 
art, is the most authentic and complete. In the great 
temple of Mexico, in his own proper chapel, called ejie- 
oatlj adjoining that of Huitzilopochtli, this god of water 
stood upon his pedestal. In his left hand was a shield 
ornamented with feathers; in his right were certain 
thin, shining, wavy sheets of gold representing his 
thunderbolts, or sometimes a golden serpent represent- 
ing either the thunderbolt or the moisture with which 
this deity was so intimately connected. On his feet were 
a kind of half-boots, with little bells of gold hanging there- 
from. Round his neck was a band or collar set with 
gold and gems of price; while from his wrists depended 
strings of costly stones, even such as are the ornaments of 
kings. His vesture was an azure smock reaching to the 
middle of the thigh, cross-hatched all over with ribbons 

17 Spiegaziove delle Tavole ill Codice Mexicano (YaticanoJ, tav. lxxi.-ii., 
in Kingsborough's Hex, Antiq., vol. v., pp. 195-0. 


of silver forming squares; and in the middle of each 
square was a circle also of silver, while in the angles 
thereof were flowers, pearl -colored, with yellow leaves 
hanging down. And even as the decoration of the vest- 
ure so was that of the shield ; the ground blue, covered 
with crossed ribbons of silver and circles of silver: and 
the feathers of yellow and green and flesh-color and 
blue, each color forming a distinct band. The body was 
naked from mid -thigh down, and of a grey tint, as was 
also the face. This face had only one eye of a somewhat 
extraordinary character: there was an exterior circle of 
blue, the interior was white with a black line across it 
and a little semi-circle below the line. Either round 
the whole eye or round the mouth was a doubled band, 
or ribbon of blue; this, although unnoticed by Torque- 
mada, is affirmed by (lama to have been never omitted 
from any figure of Tlaloc, to have been his most char- 
acteristic device, and that which distinguished him speci- 
ally from the other gods. In his open mouth were to be 
seen only three grinders; his front teeth were painted 
red, as was also the pendant, with its button of gold, 
that hung from his ear. His head-adornment was an 
open crown, covered in its circumference with white and 
green feathers, and from behind it over the shoulder 
depended other plumes of red and white. Sometimes 
the insignium of the thunderbolt is omitted with this 
god, and Ixtlilxochitl represents him, in the picture of 
the month Etzalli, with a cane of maize in the one hand, 
and in the other a kind of instrument with which he 
was digging in the ground. In the ground thus dug were 
put maize leaves filled with a kind of food, like fritters, 
called etzalli; from this the month took its name. 18 

A prayer to this god has been preserved by Sahagun, 
in which it will be noticed that the word Tlaloc is used 
sometimes in the singular and sometimes in the plural : — 

our Lord, most clement, liberal giver and lord of 
verdure and coolness, lord of the terrestrial paradise, 

u Clavigero, Sioria Ant. del Jfrssiro, torn, ir., p. 14; Leon y Gama, Los 
Piedras, pt i., p. lul, pt ii., pp. 76-9. 


odorous and flowery, and lord of the incense of copal, woe 
are we that the gods of water, thy subjects, have hid 
themselves away in their retreat, who are wont to serve 
us with the things we need and who are themselves 
served with utti and aucktli and copal. They have left 
concealed all the things that sustain our lives, and 
carried away with them their sister the goddess of the 
necessaries of life, and carried away also the goddess of 
pepper. our Lord, take pity on us that live; our food 
goes to destruction, is lost, is dried up; for lack of water, 
it is as if turned to dust and mixed with spiders' webs. 
\Yoe for the miserable laborers and for the common 
people; they are wasted with hunger, they go about un- 
recognizable and disfigured every one. Thej- are blue 
under the eves as with death ; their mouths are dry as 
sedge; all the bones of their bodies ma}^ be counted 
as in a skeleton. The children are disfigured and jellow 
as earth ; not onl} r those that begin to walk, but even 
those in the cradle. There is no one to whom this tor- 
ment of hunger does not come; the very animals and 
birds suffer hard want, by the drought that is. It is 
pitiful to see the birds, some dragging themselves along 
with drooping wings, others failing down utterly and un- 
able to walk, and others still with their mouths open 
through this hunger and thirst. The animals, our 
Lord, it is a grievous sight to see them stumbling and 
falling, licking the earth for hunger, and panting with 
open mouth and hanging tongue. The people lose their 
senses and die for thirst; they perish, none is like to re- 
main. It is woeful, our Lord, to see all the face of 
the earth dry, so that it cannot produce the herbs nor 
the trees, nor anything to sustain us. — the earth that 
used to be as a father and mother to us, giving us milk 
and all nourishment, herbs and fruits that therein grew. 
Now is all dry, all lost; it is evident that the Tlaloc 
gods have carried all away with them, and hid in 
their retreat, which is the terrestrial paradise. The 
things, Lord, that thou wert graciously wont to give 
us. upon which we lived and were joyful, which are the 


life and joy of all the world, and precious as emeralds 
or sapphires, — all these things are departed from us. 
our Lord, god of nourishment and giver thereof, most 
humane and most compassionate, what thing hast thou 
determined to do with us? Hast thou, peradventure 
altogether forsaken us? Thy wrath and indignation 
shall it not be appeased? Hast thou determined on the 
perdition of all thy servants and vassals, and that thy 
city and kingdom shall be left desolate and uninhabited? 
Peradventure, this has been determined, and settled in 
heaven and hades. our Lord, concede at least this, 
that the innocent children, who cannot so much as walk, 
who are still in the cradle, may have something to eat, so 
that they may live, and not die in this so great famine. 
What have they done that they should be tormented and 
should die of hunger ? No iniquity have they committed , 
neither know they what thing it is to sin; they have 
neither offended the god of heaven nor the god of hell. 
We, if we have offended in many things, if our sins have 
reached heaven and hades, and the stink thereof gone 
out to the ends of the earth, just it is that we be de- 
stroyed and made an end of; we have nothing to say 
thereto, nor to excuse ourselves withal, nor to resist 
what is determined against us in heaven and in hades. 
Let it be done; destroy us all, and that swiftly, that we 
may not suffer from this long weariness which is worse 
than if we burned in fire. Certainly it is a horri- 
ble thing to suffer this hunger; it is like a snake lacking- 
food, it gulps down its saliva, it hisses, it cries out for 
something to devour. It is a fearful thing to see the 
anguish of it demanding somewhat to eat; this hunger 
is intense as burning fire, Hinging out sparks. Lord, 
let the thing happen that many years ago we have heard 
said by the old men and women that have passed away 
from us, let the heavens fall on us and the demons of 
the air come down, the Izitzimites, who are to come to 
destroy the earth with all that dwell on it; let darkness 
and obscurity cover the whole world, and the habitation 
of men be nowhere found therein. This thing was 


known to the ancients, and they divulged it, and from 
moutli to month it has come down to us, all this that 
has to happen when the world ends and the earth is 
weary of producing creatures. Our Lord, such present 
end would he now dear to us as riches or pleasures once 
were — miserable that we are! See good, Lord, that 
there hill some pestilence to end us quickly. Such 
plague usually comes from the god of hades; and if it 
came there would peradventure be provided some allow- 
ance of food, so that the dead should not travel to hades 
without airy provision for the way. that this tribu- 
lation were of war, which is originated by the sun, and 
which breaks from sleep like a strong and valiant one, 
— for then would the soldiers and the brave, the stout 
and warlike men, take pleasure therein. In it many 
die, and much blood is spilt, and the battle-field is filled 
with dead bodies and with the bones and skulls of the 
vanquished ; strewn also is the face of the earth with 
the hairs of the head of warriors that rot ; but this they 
fear not, for they know that their souls go to the house 
of the sun. And there they honor the sun with joyful 
voices, and suck the various flowers with great delight ; 
there all the stout and valiant ones that died in war arc 
glorified and extolled ; there also the little and tender 
children that die in war are presented to the Sun, very 
clean and well adorned and shining like precious stones. 
Thy sister, the goddess of food, provides for those 
that go thither, supplying them with provision for the 
way; and this provision of necessary things is the 
strength and the soul and the staff of all the people of 
the world, and without it there is no life. But this 
hunger with which we are afflicted, our most humane 
Lord, is so sore and intolerable that the miserable com- 
mon people are not able to suffer nor support it ; being 
still alive they die many deaths; and not the people 
alone suffer but also all the animals. our most 
compassionate Lord, lord of green things and gums, 
of herbs odorous and virtuous, I beseech thee to look 
with eyes of pity on the people of this thy city and 


kingdom; for the whole world down to the very 
beasts is in peril of destruction, and disappearance, 
and irremediable end. Since this is so, I entreat 
thee to see £ood to send back to us the food-giving 
gods, gods of the rain and storm, of the herbs and of 
the trees; so that they perform again their office here 
with us on the earth. Scatter the riches and the pros- 
perity of thy treasures, let the timbrels of joy be shaken 
that are the staves of the gods of water, let them take 
their sandals of india-rubber that they may walk with 
swiftness. Give succor, Lord, to our lord, the god 
of the earth, at least with one shower of water, for 
when he has water he creates and sustains us. See 
good, Lord, to invigorate the corn and the other foods, 
much wished for and much needed, now sown and 
planted ; for the ridges of the earth suffer sore need and 
anguish from lack of water. See good, Lord, that 
the people receive this favor and mercy at thine hand, 
let them see and enjoy of the verdure and coolness that 
are as precious stones; see good that the fruit and the 
substance of the Tlalocs be given, which are the clouds 
that these gods cany with them and that sow the rain 
about us. See good, Lord, that the animals and 
herbs be made glad, and that the fowls and birds of 
precious feather, such as the quechotl and the caguan^ 
fly and sing and suck the herbs and flowers. And let 
not this come about with thunderings and lightnings, 
symbols of thy wrath ; for if our lords the Tlalocs come 
with thunder and lightning the whole people, being lean 
and very weak with hunger, would be terrified. If in- 
deed some are already marked out to go to the earthly 
paradise by the stroke of the thunderbolt, let this death 
be restricted to them, and let no injury befall any of 
the other people in mountain or cabin; neither let hurt 
come near the magueys or the other trees and plants of 
the earth ; for these things are- necessary to the life and 
sustenance of the people, poor, forsaken, and cast-away, 
who can with difficulty get food enough -to live, going 
about through hunger with the bowels empty and stick- 


ing to the ribs. our Lord, most compassionate, most 
generous, giver of all nourishment, be pleased to bless 
the earth and all the things that live on the face thereof. 
With deep sighing and with anguish of heart I cry upon 
all those that are gods of water, that are in the four 
quarters of the world, east and west, north and south, 
and upon those that dwell in the hollow of the earth, or 
in the air, or in the high mountains, or in the deep 
caves, I beseech them to come and console this poor 
people and to water the earth; for the eyes of all that 
inhabit the earth, animals as well as men, are turned 
toward you, and their hope is set upon your persons. 
our Lord, be pleased to come. 19 

This is a prayer to Tlaloc. But it was not with 
prayers alone that they deprecated his wrath and im- 
plored his assistance; here as elsewhere in the Mexican 
religion sacrifices played an important part. "When the 
rain failed and the land was parched by drought, great 
processions were made in which a number of hairless 
dogs, common to the country, and good to eat, were 
carried on decorated litters to a place devoted to this 
use. There they were sacrificed to the god of water by 
cutting out their hearts. Afterwards the carcasses were 
eaten amid great festivities. All these things the Tlas- 
caltec historian, Camargo, had seen with his own eyes 
thirty years before writing his book. The sacrifices of 
men. which were added to these in the days of great- 
ness of the old religion, he describes as he was informed 
by priests who had officiated thereat. Two festivals in 
the year were celebrated to Tlaloc, the greater feast and 
the less. Each of these was terminated by human sacri- 
fices. The side of the victim was opened with a sharp 
knife ; the high priest tore out the heart, and turning 
toward the east offered it with lifted hands to the sun, 
crushing it at the same time with all his strength. lie 
repeated this, turning in succession towards the remain- 
ing three cardinal points; the other tlamacaxqueSj or 

19 Sahagun, in Kingsborough's Jlex. Antiq., vol. v., pp. 372-6; Sahagun, 
Hist. Gen., vol. ii , pp. Gi-70. 


priests, not ceasing the while to darken with clouds of 
incense the faces of the idols. The heart was lastly 
burned and the body Hung down the steps of the temple. 
A priest, who had afterwards been converted to Christi- 
anity, told Camargo that when he tore out the heart of 
a victim and flung it down, it used to palpitate with such 
force as to clear itself of the ground several times till it grew 
cold. Tlaloc was held in exceeding respect and the priests 
alone had the right to enter his temple. Whoever dared 
to blaspheme against him was supposed to die suddenly or 
to be stricken of thunder; the thunderbolt, instrument of 
his vengeance, flashed from the sky even at the mo- 
ment it was clearest. The sacrifices offered to him in 
times of drought were never without answer and result ; 
for, as Camargo craftily insinuates, the priests took good 
care never to undertake them till they saw indications 
of coining rain; besides, he adds, — introducing, in de- 
fiance of nee deus intersit, a surely unneeded personage, 
if we suppose his last statement true, — the devil, to 
to confirm these people in their errors, was always sure 
to send rain. 20 

Children were also sacrificed to Tlaloc. Says Moto- 
linia, when four years came together in which there 
was no rain, and there remained as a consequence hardly 
any green thing in the fields, the people waited till the 
maize grew as high as the knee, and then made a gene- 
ral subscription with which four slave children, of five 
or six years of age, were purchased. These they sacri- 
ficed in a cruel manner by closing them up in a cave, 
which was never opened except on these occasions. 21 

According to Mendieta, again, children were some- 

20 Camargo, Hist, de Tlaxcallan, in Nouvdhs Amiaks des Voy., 1843, torn. 
99, pp. 133, 135-7. Camargo, being a Tlascaltec, most of his writings 
have particular reference to his own province, but in this as in other places 
he seems to be describing general Mexican customs. 

21 The text without saying directly that these unfortunate children were 
closed there alive appears to infer it: ' Cuando el maiz estaba a la rodilla, 
para un dia repartian y echaban pecho, con que compraban cuatro ninos 
esclavos de edad de cinco a. seis arios, y sacrificabanlos a Tlaloc, dios (hi 
agua, poniendolos en una cueva, y cerrabanla hasta otro ano que hacian lo 
misnio. Este cruel sacriiicio.' Motolinia, in Icazbalceta, Col. de Doc, torn. L, 
p. 15. 


times offered to this god by drowning. The children 
were put into a canoe which was carried to a certain part 
of the lake of Mexico where was a whirlpool, which is 
no longer visible. Here the boat was sunk with its 
living cargo. These gods had, according to the same 
author, altars in the neighborhood of pools especially 
near springs; which altars were furnished with some 
kind of roof, and at the principal fountains were four 
in number set over against each other in the shape of a 
cross — the cross of the rain god. 22 

The Vatican Codex says, that in April a boy was 
sacrificed to Tlaloc and his dead body put into the maize 
granaries or maize fields — it is not clearly apparent which 
— to preserve the food of the people from spoiling. 23 It 
is to Sahagun, however, that we must turn for the most 
complete and authentic account of the festivals of Tlaloc 
with their attendant sacrifices. 

In the first days of the first month of the year, which 
month is called in some parts of Mexico, Quavitleloa, 
but generally Atlcaoalo, and begins on the second of our 
Februaiy, a great feast was made in honor of the Tlalocs, 
gods of rain and water. For this occasion many chil- 
dren at the breast were purchased from their mothers; 
those being chosen that had two whirls (remolinos) in 
their hair, and that had been been born under a good 
sign ; it being said that such were the most agreeable 
sacrifice to the storm gods, and most likely to induce 
them to send rain in due season. Some of these infants 
were butchered for this divine holiday on certain moun- 
tains, and some were drowned in the lake of Mexico. 
With the beginning of the festival, in every house, from 
the hut to the palace, certain poles were set up and to 

22 ' Tambien tenian fdolos junto a los aguas, mavormente cerea de las 
fuentes, a. do hacian bus altares con sus gradas cubiertas por encima, y en 
muchas principales fuentes cuatro altares de estos a nianera de cruz unos 
enfrente de ottos, y allien el agua echaban muelio encienso ofrecido y papel.' 
Men Heta, Hist. Ecles., pp. 87. 1 >2. 

23 ' In questo mese ritornavano ad ornare li tempj, e le immagini come 
nello passato, ed in fine delli venti di sacrificavano mi putto al Dio dell' ac- 
qua, e lo mettevano intra il niaiz. a tine die noil si gnastasse la provisione 
di tntto 1' anno.' Spiegazione delle Tavole del Codice Mexicano, tav. lx., in 
Kingsborough 's Mex. Antiq., vol. v., p. 191. 


these were attached strips of the paper of the country, 
daubed over with india-rubber gum, said strips 
being called amateteuitl] this was considered an honor 
to the water-gods. And the first place where children 
were killed was Quauhtepetl, a high mountain in the 
neighborhood of Tlatelulco; all infants, boys or girls, 
sacrificed there were called by the name of the place, 
Quauhtepetl, and were decorated with strips of paper 
dyed red. The second place where children were killed 
was Yoaltecatl, a high mountain near Guadalupe. The 
victims were decorated with pieces of black paper, with 
red lines on it, and were named after the place, Yoal- 
tecatl. The third death-halt was made at Tepetzingo, a 
a well-known hillock that rose up from the waters of 
the lake opposite Tlatelulco; there they killed a little 
girl, decking her with blue paper, and calling her Qute- 
zalxoch, for so was this hillock called by another name. 
Poiauhtla, on the boundary of Tlascala, was the fourth 
hill of sacrifice. Here they killed children, named as 
usual after the locality, and decorated with paper c:i 
which were lines of india-rubber oil. The fifth place of 
sacrifice was the no longer visible whirlpool or sink of 
the lake of Mexico, Pantitlan. Those drowned here 
were called Epcoatl, and their adornment epuepaniuhqui. 
The sixth hill of death was Cocotl, 2i near Chalcoatenco ; 
the infant victims were named after it and decorated 
with strips of paper of which half the number were red 
and half a tawny color. The mount Yiauhqueme, near 
Atlacuioaia, was the seventh station; the victims being 
named after the place and adorned with paper of a tawny 

All these miserable babes before being carried to 
their death were bedecked with precious stones and 
rich feathers and with raiment and sandals wrought 
curiously; they put upon them paper wings (as if 
the}' were angels) ; they stained their faces with oil of 

21 ' Whence is derived the name cocolrs, by which the boys of the choir of 
the cathedral of Mexico are now known.' Bustamante, note to Sahagan, Hist. 
Gen., torn, i., lib. ii., p. 85. 


india-rubber, and on the middle of each tiny cheek they 
painted a round spot of white. Not able yet to walk, 
the victims were carried in litters shining with jewels 
and awave with plumes; flutes and trumpets bellowed 
and shrilled round the little bedizened heads, all so un- 
fortunate in their two whirls of hair, as the}^ passed 
along; and . every where as the litters were borne by, all 
the people wept. When the procession reached the 
temple near Tepetzinco, on the east, called Tozocau, 
the priests rested there all night, watching and singing 
songs, so that the little ones could not sleep. In the 
morning the march was a^ain resumed ; if the children 
wept copiously those around them were very glad, say- 
ing it was a sign that much rain would fall; while if 
the}' met any dropsical person on the road it was taken 
for a bad omen and something that would hinder the 
rain. If airy of the temple ministers, or of the others 
called quaquavvtli, or of the old men, broke off from the 
procession or turned back to their houses before they 
came to the place where the sacrifice was done, they 
were held for infamous and unworthy of any public of- 
fice ; thenceforward they were called mocauhque, that is 
to say, l deserters/- 5 

More ludicrous than diabolical are the ceremonies of 
the next feast of Tlaloc. In the sixth Aztec month, the 
month Etzalqualixtli, there was held a festival in honor 
of the gods of water and rain. Before the commence- 
ment of this festival the idol priests fasted four days, 
and before beginning to fast they made a procession 
to a certain piece of water, near Citlaltepec, to gather 
tides; for at that place these rushes grew very tall and 
thick and what part of them was under water was 
very white. There they pulled them up, rolled them 
in bundles wrapped about with their blankets, and 
so carried them back on their shoulders. Both on going 
out for these rushes and on coming back with them, it 
w r as the custom to rob anyone that was met on the road ; 

25 KinyJioroiv ill's Mex. Antiq., vol. vii., pp. 37-8; Sahagun, Hist. Gen., torn. 
i., lib. ii.. pp. 84-7. 


and as every one knew of this custom the roads 
were generally pretty clear of stragglers about this time. 
No one, not even a king's officer returning to his 
master with tribute, could hope to escape on such 
an occasion, nor to obtain from any court or magis- 
trate any indemnification for loss or injury so sustained 
in goods or person; and if he made any resistance to his 
clerical spoilers they beat and kicked and dragged him 
over the ground. When they reached the temple with 
their rushes they spread them out on the ground and 
plaited them, white with green, into as it were painted 
mats, sewing them firm with threads of maguey-root; 
of these mats they made stools, and chairs with backs. 
The first day of the fast arrived, all the idol ministers 
and priests retired to their apartments in the temple 
buildings. There retired all those called tlamacaztequio- 
agues, that is to say, i priests that have done feats in 
war, that have captured three or four prisoners;' these 
although they did not reside continually in the temple, 
resorted thither at set times to fulfil their offices. There 
retired also those called tlamacazcayiaq/ie< that is, c priests 
that have taken one prisoner in war;' these also, al- 
though not regular inmates of the cues, resorted thither, 
when called by their duties. There retired also those 
that are called tlamacazqiiecuicanhne 1 i priest singers,' who 
resided permanently in the temple building because they 
had as yet captured no one in war. Last of all those 
also retired that were called tlamacaztezcahoan, which 
means l inferior ministers,' and those boys, like little 
sacristans, who were called tlamacatoton, 'little ministers.' 
Next, all the rush mats that had been made which 
were called aztapilpethtl, l jaspered mats of rushes, or 
mats of white and green' were spread round about 
the hearths (hogares) of the temple, and the priests pro- 
ceeded to invest themselves for their offices. They 
put on a kind of jacket that they had, called xlcoUi. of 
painted cloth ; on the left arm they put a kind of scarf, 
macataxtli] in the left hand they took a bag of copal, and 
in the right a censer, temaitl, which is a kind of sauce- 


pan or frying-pan of baked clay. Then the} T entered into 
the court-yard of the temple, took up their station in 
the middle of it, put live coals into their censers, added 
copal, and offered incense toward the four quarters of 
the world, east, north, west, and south. This clone 
they emptied the coals from their incense-pans into the 
great brasiers that were always burning at night in the 
court, brasiers somewhat less in height than the height 
of a man, and so thick that two men could with difficulty 
clasp them. 

This over, the priests returned to the temple build- 
ings, calmecac, and put off their ornaments. Then they 
offered before the hearth little balls of dousrh, called 
veatelolotli) each priest offering four, arranging them on 
the aforementioned rush mats, and putting them down 
with great care, so that they should not roll nor move ; 
and if the balls of any one stirred, it was the duty of 
his fellows to call attention to the matter and have him 
punished therefor. Some offered instead of dough four 
little pies or four pods of green pepper. A careful scru- 
tiny was also observed to see if any one had any dirt on 
his blanket, or any bit of thread or hair or feather, and 
that no one should trip or fall ; for in such a case he had 
to be punished ; and as a consequence every man took good 
heed to all his steps and ways during these four days. 
At the end of each day's offerings, certain old men, called 
qmquacii/iltin, came, their faces dyed black, and their 
heads shaved, save only the crown of the head, where 
the hair was allowed to grow long, the reverse of the 
custom of the Christian priests. These old men daily 
collected the offerings that had been made, dividing 
them among themselves. It was further the custom 
with all the priests and in all the temples, while fasting 
these four days, to be wakened at midnight by the blast 
of horns and shells and other instruments; when all 
rose up and, utterly naked, went to where were 
certain thorns of maguey, cut for the purpose the day 
before, and with little lancets of stone they hacked their 
ears, staining the prepared thorns of maguey and be- 


smearing their faces with the blood that flowed ; each 
man staining maguey-thorns with his blood in number 
proportioned to his devotion, some five, others more, 
others less. This done all the priests went to bathe 
themselves, how cold soever it might be, attended by 
the music of marine shells and shrill whistles of baked 
clay. Every one had a little bag strapped to his shoul- 
ders, ornamented with tassels or strips of painted paper ; 
in these bags was carried a sort of herb ground fine 
and made up with a kind of black dye into little longish 
pellets. 26 The general body of the priests marched 
along, each one carrying a leaf of maguey in which the 
thorns were stuck, as in a pincushion, which he had to 
use. Before these went a priest with his censer full of 
live coals and a bag of copal : and in advance of all these 
walked one carrying a board on his shoulder of about a 
span broad and two yards long, hollowed apparently in 
some way, and filled with little rollers of wood that 
rattled and sounded as the bearer went along shaking 
them.' 27 All the priests took part in this procession, only 
four remaining behind to take care of the temple-build- 
ing, or calmecac, which was their monastery. These four 
during the absence of the others remained seated in the 
calmecac and occupied themselves in devotion to the 
gods, in singing and in rattling with a hollow board 
of the sort mentioned above. At the piece of water 
where the priests were to bathe there were four houses, 
called axaucalU, ' fog houses,' set each toward one of the 
four quarters of the compass; in the ablutions of the first 
night one of .these houses was occupied, on the second 

2G ' En aquellas talegas llevaban una manera cle harina hecha a la raanera 
de estiercol de ratones, que ellos llamaban yyaqualli, que era conlicionad i 
con tinta y con polvos de una yerva que ellos Hainan yietll; es como veleiios 
de Castilla.' KingsborougK 1 s Mex. Antiq., vol. vii., p. 51. 

27 Sahagun gives two diferent accounts of this instrument: ' Una tabla tnn 
larga como dos varas, y ancha como unpalmb 6 poco mas. Yvan dentro de 
estas tablas unas sonajas, y el que le llevaba iva sonando con ellas. Llama- 
ban a esta tabla Axochicaoaliztli, 6 Naeatlquoavitl.' The second description 
is: ' Una tabla de anchura de un palino y de largura de dos brazas; a trechos 
ivan unos sonajas en esta tabla unos pedazuelos de madero rollizos y atadoa 
a la misma tabla, y dentro de ella ivan sonando los unos con los otros. Esta 
t tbla se Ham aba aiauhchieaoaztli.' Khujaboroayh's Mex. Antiq., vol. vii., pp. 
51 and 53. 

Vol. III. 22 


night another, and so on through all the four nights and 
lour houses of the fog. Here also were four tall poles 
standing up out of the water. And the unfortunate 
bathers, naked from the outset as we rememher, reached 
this place trembling and their teeth chattering with 
cold. One of their number mumbled a few words, 
which being translated mean: this is the place of 
snakes, the place of mosquitos, the place of ducks, and 
the place of rushes. This said, all flung themselves into 
the water and began to splash with their hands and 
feet, making a great noise and imitating the cries of 
various aquatic birds. 28 When the bathing was over, 
the naked priests took their way back accompanied by 
the music of pipes and shells. Half dead with cold and 
weariness they reached the temple, where drawing their 
mantles over them they flung themselves down in a con- 
fused heap on the rush mats, so often mentioned, and 
slept as best they could. We are told that some talked 
in their sleep, and some walked about in it, and some 
snored, and some sighed in a painful manner. There 
they lay in a tangled weary heap not rising till noon of 
the next day. 

The first thing to be done on waking was to array 
themselves in their canonicals, take their censers, 
and to follow an old priest called Quaquacuilti to all 
the chapels and altars of the idols, incensing them. 
After this they were at liberty to eat; they squatted 
down in groups, and to each one was given such food as 
had been sent to him from his own house ; and if any one 
took any of the portion of another, or even exchanged his 
for that of another, he was punished for it. Punish- 
ment also attended the dropping of any morsel while 
eating, if the fault were not atoned for by a fine. After 
this meal, they all w T ent to cut down branches of a cer- 

28 ' Oomenzaban a vocear y a gritar y a contrakacer las aves del agua, 
imos a los anades, otros a. unas aves zancudas del agua que llama pipititi, 
otros a los cuervos marinos, otros a las garzotas blancas, otros a las garzas. 
Aquellas palabras que decia el satrapa parece que eran invocacion del 1'e- 
monio para hablar, aquellos lenguages de aves en al agua.' Kingsboi'outgh's 
Max. Antiq., vol. vii., p. 51. 


tain kind called aexoiatl or, where these were not to be 
found, green canes instead, and to bring them to the 
temple in sheaves. There they sat down, every man 
with his sheaf, and waited for an arranged signal. The 
signal given, every one sprang up to some appointed 
part of the temple to decorate it with his boughs; and if 
any one went to a place not his, or wandered from his 
companions, or lagged behind them, they punished him 
— a punishment only to be remitted by paying to his 
accuser, within the four days of which we are now speak- 
ing, either a hen or a blanket or a breech-clout, or, if very 
poor, a ball of dough in a cup. 

These four days over, the festival was come, and every 
man began it by eating etzalli^ a kind of maize porridge, 
in his own house. For those that wished it there was 
general dancing and rejoicing. Many decked themselves 
out like merry-andrews and went about in parties carry- 
ing pots, going from house to house, demanding etzalli. 
They sang and danced before the door, and said, "If 
30U do not give me some porridge, I will knock a hole in 
your house;" whereupon the etzalli was given. These 
revels began at midnight and ceased at dawn. Then 
indeed did the priests array themselves in all their 
glory : underneath was a jacket, over that a thin trans- 
parent mantle called aiauhquemitl, decorated with par- 
rot-feathers set cross-wise. Between the shoulders they 
fastened a great round paper hower, like a shield. To 
the nape of the neck they attached other flowers of 
crumpled paper of a semi-circular shape; these hung 
down on both sides of the head like ears. The forehead 
was painted blue and over the paint was dusted powder 
of marcasite. In the right hand was carried a bagmade 
of tiger-skin, and embroidered with little white shells 
which clattered as one walked. The bag seems to have 
been three-cornered ; from one angle hung down the 
tiger's tail, from another his two fore feet, from another 
his two hind feet. It contained incense made from a 
certain herb called yiauhtli. 29 There went one priest 

29 ' Yauhtlaulli or Yauitl, mayz moreuo o negro.' Molina, Yocabulario. 


bearing a hollow board filled with wooden rattles, as 
before described. In advance of this personage there 
inarched a number of others, carrying in their arms 
images of the gods made of that gum that is black and 
leaps, called ulli (india-rubber), these images were called 
idteteu 1 that is to say ' gods of ulli.' Other ministers 
there were carrying in their arms lumps of copal, shaped 
like sugar loaves; each pyramid having a rich feather, 
called quetzal, stuck in the peak of it like a plume. In 
this manner went the procession with the usual horns 
and shells, and the purpose of it was to lead to punish- 
ment those that had transgressed in any of the points 
we have already discussed. The culprits were marched 
along, some held by the hair at the nape of the neck, 
others by the breech-clout; the boy offenders were held 
by the hand, or, if very small, were carried. All these 
were brought to a place called Totecco, where water was. 
Here certain ceremonies were performed, paper was 
burned in sacrifice, as were also the pyramids of copal 
and images of ulli, incense being thrown into the fire 
and other incense scattered over the rush mats with 
which the place was adorned. While this was going on 
those in charge of the culprits had not been idle, but 
were flinging them into the water. Great was the noise, 
it is said, made by the splash of one tossed in, and the 
water leaped high with the shock. As any one came to 
the surface or tried to scramble out he was pushed in or 
pushed down again — well was it then for him who could 
swim, and by long far diving keep out of the reach of 
his tormentors. For the others they were so roughly 
handled that they were often left for dead on the water's 
edge, where their relatives would come and hang them 
up by the feet to let the water they had swallowed run 
out of them; a method of cure surely as bad as the 

The shrill music struck up again and the procession 
returned by the way it had come; the friends of the 
punished ones carrying them. The monastery or cal- 
mecac reached, there began another four days' fast, 


called neilacacaoaliztll ; but in this the sharp religious eti- 
quette of the first four days' fast was not observed, or at 
least one was not liable to be informed upon or punished 
for a breach of such etiquette. The conclusion of this 
fast was celebrated by feasting. Again the priests de- 
corated themselves in festal array. All the head was 
painted blue, the face was covered with honey (miel) 
mixed with a black dye. Over the shoulders were car- 
ried the incense-bags. embroidered with little white shells, 
— bags made of tiger-skins, as before described, for the 
chief priests, and of paper painted to imitate tiger-skin 
in the case of the inferior priests. Some of these 
satchels were fashioned to resemble the bird called atzit- 
zicuilotl, others to resemble ducks. The priests marched 
in procession to the temple, and before all marched the 
priest of Tlaloc. He had on his head a crown of basket- 
work, fitting close to the temples below and spreading 
out above, with many plumes issuing from the middle of 
it. His face was anointed with melted india-rubber 
gum, black as ink, and concealed by an ugly mask with 
a great nose, and a wig attached which fell as low as the 
waist. All went along mumbling to themselves as if 
they prayed, till they came to the cu of Tlaloc. There 
they stopped and spread tule mats on the ground, and 
dusted them over with powdered tule-leaves mixed with 
3'iauhtli incense. Upon this the acting priest placed 
four round chalchiuites, like little balls; then he took a 
small hook painted blue, and touched each ball with it; 
and as he touched each he made a movement as if 
drawing back his hand, and turned himself completely 
round. He scattered more incense on the mats, then 
he took the board with the rattles inside and sounded 
with it — perhaps a kind of religious stage thunder in 
imitation of the thunder of his god. Upon this every 
one retired to his house or to his monastery and put off 
his ornaments; and the unfortunates who had been 
ducked were carried at last to their own dwellings for 
the rest and recovery that they so sorely needed. 
That night the festivities burst out with a new glory, 


the musical instruments of the cu itself were sounded, 
the great drams and the shrill shells. Well watched 
that night were the prisoners who were doomed to deatli 
on the morrow. When it came they were adorned with 
the trappings of the Tlaloc gods — for it was said they 
were the images of these gods — and those that were 
killed first were said to be the foundation of the others, 
which seemed to be symbolized by those who had to die 
last being made to seat themselves on those who had 
been first killed. 30 

The slaughter over, the hearts of the victims were put 
into a pot that was painted blue and stained with ulli in 
four places. Together with this pot offerings were taken 
of paper and feathers and precious stones and chalchiuites, 
and a party set out with the whole for that part of the 
lake where the whirlpool is, called Pantitlan. All who 
assisted at this offering and sacrifice were provided with 
a supply of the herb called iztauhiail, which is something 
like the incense used in Spain, and they puffed it with 
their mouths over each other's faces and over the faces 
of their children. This they did to hinder maggots 
getting into the eyes, and also to protect against a certain 
disease of the eyes called exocuUb-o-alixtli) some also put 
this herb into their ears, and others for a certain super- 
stition they had held a handful of it clutched in the hand. 
The party entered a great canoe belonging to the king, 
furnished with green oars, or paddles, spotted with ulli, 
and rowed swiftly to the place Pantitlan, where the 
whirlpool was. This whirlpool was surrounded by logs 
driven into the bottom of the lake like piles — probably 
to keep canoes from being drawn into the sink. These 
iogs being reached, the priests, standing in the bows of 
the royal vessel, began to play on their horns and shells. 
Conspicuous among them stood their chief holding the 

30 ' Comenzaban luego amatar a los captivos; aquellos que primero mata- 
ban decian que eran el fundamento de los que eran imagen de los Tlaloques, 
que ivan aderezados con los ornamentos de los mismos Tlaloques que (ivan 
aderezados ) decian eran sus imagenes, y asi los que morian a la postre ivanse 
;'i sentar sobre los que primero liubian muerto.' Kingsborougli's Mex. Arttiq.. 
vol. vii., p. 5-i. 


pot containing the hearts; he flung them far into the 
whirling hollow of water, and it is said that when the 
hearts plunged in, the waters were strangely moved and 
stirred into waves and foam. The precious stones were 
also thrown in, and the papers of the offering were 
fastened to the stakes with a number of the chalchiuites 
and other stones. A priest took a censer and put four 
papers called telhuitl into it. and burned them, offering 
them toward the whirlpool; then he threw them, censer 
and all, still burning into the sink. That done, the 
canoe was put about and rowed to the landing of Teta- 
macolco, and every one bathed there. 

All this took place between midnight and morning, 
and when the light began to break the whole body of 
the priests went to bathe in the usual place. They 
washed the blue paint off their heads, save only on the 
forehead ; and if there were any offences of any priest to 
be punished he was here ducked and half drowned as 
described above. Lastly all returned to their monas- 
teries, and the green rush mats spread there were thrown 
out behind each house. 31 

We have given the description of two great festivals 
of the Tlalocs, — two being all that are mentioned by 
many authorities — there still remain, however, two 
other notable occasions on which they were propitiated 
and honored. 

In the thirteenth month, which was called Tepeilhuitl, 
and which began, according to Clavigero, on the 24th of 
October, it was the custom to cut certain sticks into the 
shape of snakes. Certain images as of children were also 
cut out of wood, and these dolls, called hecatotonti, to- 
gether with the wooden snakes, were used as a founda- 
tion or centre round which to build up little effigies of 
the mountains; wherein the Tlalocs were honored as irods 
of the mountains, and wherein memorial was had of 
those that had been drowned, or killed by thunderbolts, 
or whose bodies had been buried without cremation — the 

31 Kmgsborough's 3Tex. Antiq., vol. vii., pp. 49-55; Sahagun, Hist. Gen., 
tom. i., lib. ii., pp. 111-124. 


dolls perhaps representing the bodies of these, and the 
snakes the thunderbolts. Having then these wooden 
dolls and snakes as a basis, they were covered with dough 
mixed from the seeds of the wild amaranth; over each 
doll certain papers were put; round one snake and one 
doll, set back to back, there appears next to have been 
hound a wisp of hay, (which wisp was kept from year to 
year and washed on the vigil of every feast), till the 
proper shape of a mountain was arrived at; over the 
whole was then daubed a layer of dough, of the kind 
already mentioned. We have now our image of the 
mountain with two heads looking opposite ways, stick- 
ing out from its summit. Round this summit there 
seem to have been stuck rolls of dough representing the 
clouds usually formed about the crests of high mountains. 
The face of the human image that looked out over these 
doimh clouds was daubed with melted ulli; and to both 
cheeks of it were stuck little tortillas, or cakes of the 
everywhere-present dough of wild amaranth seeds. On 
the head of this same image was put a crown with feath- 
ers issuing from it. 32 These images were made at night, 

32 This passage relating to the making of images of the mountains is such 
a chaotic jumble in the original that one is forced to use largely any con- 
structive imagination one may possess to reproduce even a comprehensible 
description. I give the original; if any one can make rhyme or reason out 
of it by a closer following of the words of Sahagun, he shall not want the 
opportunity: ' Al trece mes llamaban Tepeilhuitl. En la fiesta que se hacia 
en este mes cubriah de masa de bledos unos palos que tenian hechos como 
ciilebras. y hacian imagenes de montes fundadas sobre unos palos hechos a 
manera de nifios que llamaban Hecatotonti: era la imagen del monte de 
masa de bledos. Ponianle delante junto anas masas rollizas y larguillas de 
masa de bledos a manera de bezos, y estos llamaban Yomiio. Hacian estas 
imagenes a honra de los montes altos donde se juntan las nubes, y en raemo- 
ria de los que habian muerto en agua 6 heridos de rayo, y de los que no se 
quemaban sus cuerpos sino que los enterraban. Estos montes hacianlos 
sobre unos rodeos 6 roscas hechas de heno at:idas con zacate, y guardabanlas 
de un ano para otro. La vigilia de esta fiesta llevaban a lavar estas roscas 
al rio u a la fuente, y quando las llevaban ivanlas tafiendo con unos pitos 
hechos de barro cocido 6 con unos caracoles mariscos. Lavabanlas en unas 
casas u oratorias que estaban hechos a la orilla del agua que se llama Ayauh 
calli. Lavabanlas con unas ojas de canas verdes; algunos con el agua que 
pasaba por su casa las lavaban. En acabandolas de lavar volvianlas a su 
casa con la misma musica; luego hacian sobre ellas las imagenes de los 
montes como esta dicho. Algunos hacian estas imagenes de noche antes de 
amanecer cerca del dia; la cabeza de cada un monte, tenia dos caras. una de 
persona y otra de culebra, y untaban la cara de persona con ulli derretido, y 
hacian unas tortillas prequenuelas de masa de bledos amarillos, y ponianlas 
en las mexillas de la cara de persona de una parte y de otia; cubrianlos ton 


and in the morning the}^ were carried to their l oratories/ 
arid laid down on beds of rushes or reeds; then food was 
offered to them, small pies or tarts, a porridge of maize- 
flour and sugar, and the stewed flesh of fowls or of dogs. 
Incense was burned before them, being thrown into a 
censer shaped like a hand, as it were a great spoon full of 
burning coals. Those who could afford it sang and 
drank pulque in honor of their dead ones and of these 

In this feast four women and a man were killed in 
honor of the Tlalocs and of the mountains. The four 
women were named respectively, Tepoxch, Matlalquac, 
Xochetecatl, and Mayavel — this last was decorated to 
appear as the image of the maguey es. The man was 
called Milnaoatl; he stood for an image of 'the snakes.' 
These victims, adorned with crowns of paper stained with 
ulli, were borne to their doom in litters. Being carried 
to the summit of the cu, they were thrown one by one 
on the sacrificial stone, their hearts taken out with the 
flint and offered to Tlaloc, and their bodies allowed to 
slide slowly down the temple-steps to the earth — a too 
rapid descent being hindered by the priests. The 
corpses were carried to a place where the heads were 
cut off and preserved, spitted on poles thrust through 
the temples of each skull. The bodies were lastly 
carried to the wards from which they had set out alive, 
and there cut in pieces and eaten. At the same time 
the images of the mountains, which we have attempted 
to describe, were broken up, the dough with which 
they were covered was set out to dry in the sun, and 
was eaten, every day a piece. The papers with which 
the said images had been adorned were then spread 
over the wisps of hay, above mentioned, and the 
whole was fastened up in the rafters of the oratory that 
every one had in his house ; there to remain till required 

unos papeles que llamaban Teteuitli; ponianlos unas coronas en las 
cabezas con sus penachos. Tambien a los imagenes de los mnertos las poni- 
an sobre aquellas roscas de zacate, y luego en amaneeiendo ponian estas 
imagenes en sus oratorios, sobre unos lechos de espadaiias 6 de juncias 6 
juncos.' EXngshorough's Mex. Antiq., vol. vii., pp. 71-2. 


for the next year's feast of the same kind; on which 
occasion, and as a preliminary to the other ceremonies 
which we have already described in the first part of this 
feast, the people took down the paper and the wisp from 
their private oratories, and carried them to the public 
oratory called the acaucalli. left the paper there, and re- 
turned with the wisp to make of it anew the image of a 
mountain. 33 

The fourth and last festival of Tlaloc which we 
have to describe, fell in our December and in the six- 
teenth Aztec month, called the month Atemuztli. About 
this time it began to thunder round the mountain-tops, 
and the first rains to fall there; the common people said, 
" Xow come the Tlalocs," and for love of the water they 
made vows to make images of the mountains — not, how- 
ever, as it would appear, such images as have been de- 
scribed as appertaining to the preceding festival. The 
priests were very devout at this season and very earnest 
in prayer, expecting the rain. • The} 7 took each man his 
incense- pan or censer, made like a great spoon with a 
lonsr round hollow handle filled with rattles and termi- 
nating in a snake's head, and offered incense to all the 
idols. Five days before the beginning of the feast the 
common people bought paper and ulli and flint knives 
and a kind of coarse cloth called nequen, and devoutly 
prepared themselves with fasting and penance to make 
their images of the mountains and to cover them with 
paper. In this hof^ season, although every one bathed, 
he washed no higher than the neck, the head was left 
unwashed ; the men, moreover, abstained from their 
wives. The night preceding the great feast-day was 
spent wholly, flint knife in hand, cutting out paper into 
various shapes. These papers called teteritl, were stained 
with ulli : and every householder got a long pole, covered 
it with pieces of this paper, and set it up in his court- 
yard, where it remained all the day of the festival. 
Those that had vowed to make images of the mountains 

31 Kimrborough's Mex. Aniiq., vol. vii., pp. 71-3; Sahagun, Hist. Gen., torn, 
i., lib. ii., pp, 159-luJ. 


invited priests to their houses to do it for them. The 
priests came, hearing- their drums and rattles and instru- 
ments of music of tortoise-shell. They made the images 
— apparently like human figures — -out of the dough of 
wild amaranth seed, and covered them with paper. In 
some houses there were made five of such images, in 
others ten, in others fifteen ; they were figures that stood 
for such mountains as the clouds gather round, such as 
the volcano of the Sierra Nevada or that of the Sierra of 
Tlascala. These images heing constructed, they were 
set in order in the oratory of the house, and before each 
one was set food — very small pies, on small platters, pro- 
portionate to the little image, small boxes holding a little 
sweet porridge of maize, little calabashes of cacao, and 
other small green calabashes containing pulque. In one 
night they presented the figures with food in this man- 
ner four times. All the night too they sang before them, 
and played upon flutes; the regular flutists not being 
employed on this occasion, but certain small boj T s who 
were paid for their trouble with something to eat. When 
the morning came, the ministers of the idols asked the 
master of the house for his tzotzopaztli, a kind of broad 
wooden knife used in weaving, 34 and thrust it into the 
breasts of the images of the mountains, as if they were 
living men, and cut their throats and drew out the hearts, 
which they put in a green cup and gave to the owner of 
the house. This done, they took all the paper with 
which these images had been adorned, together with 
certain green mats that had been used for the same pur- 
pose, and the utensils in which the offering of food had 
been put, and burned all in the court-yard of the house. 
The ashes and the mutilated images seem then to have 
been carried to a public oratory called Aiauhcalco, on 
the shore of the lake. Then all who assisted at these 
ceremonies joined themselves to eat and drink in honor 
of the mutilated images, which were called tepieme. 
T\ omen were allowed to join in this banquet provided 

31 ' Tzotzopaztli, palo aneho como euchilla con que tupen y aprietan la 
tela que ^e texe.' Molina, Focabulario. 


they brought fifteen or twenty heads of maize with them ; 
they received every one his or her share of food and 
pulque. The pulque was kept in black jars and lifted out drunk with black cups. This banquet over, the 
paper streamers were taken down from the poles set up 
in the court-yards of the houses and carried to certain 
places in the water that were marked out by piles driven 
in — we may remember that our whirlpool of Pantitlan, 
in the lake of Mexico, was one place so marked — and to 
to the tops of the mountains, and left there as it would 
appear. 35 

hi taking leave here of Tlaloc I may draw attention 
to the prominence in his cult of the number four, the 
cross, and the snake; and add that as lord of one of the 
three Aztec divisions of the future world, lord of the 
terrestrial paradise, we shall meet with him again in 
our examination of the Mexican ideas of a future life. 

35 Kinnsborowjh's Mex. Antiq., vol. vii., pp. 80-1; Sahagun, Hist. Gen., 
torn, i., lib. ii., pp. 176-9, 198, 210. Farther notice of Tl.iloc and his wor- 
ship will be found in the Spiegazione delle Tavole del Codice Mexicano, tav. 
xxviii., 1 vii., lx., lxii., in KingsborougK 's Mex. Antiq., vol. v., pp. 179, 190-2; 
Boturini, Idea, pp. 12-3, 99, 101; Amer. Ethnol. Soc, Transact., vol. i., p. 3(J5; 
Mbtolinki, Hist. Ind., in Icazbalceta, Col. de Doc, torn, i , pp. 32, 39, 42, 41-5; 
Torquemada, Monarq. Ind., torn, i., p. 290, and torn, ii., pp. 45-6, 119, 121, 
147, 151, 212, 251-4; Hen-era, Hist. Gen., dee. ii., lib. vi., cap. xv.; Gomara, 
Hist. Cong. Mex., fol. 216; Tylor's Prim. Cult., vol. ii., pp. 235, 243; Mailer, 
Amerikanische Urreliyionen, pp. 500-4 et passim. 



The Mother or all-nourishing Goddess under various names and in 
various aspects — Her Feast in the Eleventh Aztec month Ochp- 
aniztli — Festivals of the Eighth month, Hueytecuilhuitl, and 
or the Fourth, Hueytozoztli — The deification of women that died 
in child-birth — The Goddess of Water under various names and 
in various aspects — Ceremonies of the Baptism or lustration of 
children — The Goddess of Love, her various names and aspects — 
Rites of confession and absolution— The God of fire and his vari- 

the eighteenth month yzcalij also his quadriennial festival in 
the latter month — the great festival of every fifty-two years; 
lighting the new fire — the god of hades, and teoyaomique, collec- 
tor of the souls of the fallen brave — deification of dead rulers and 
heroes — mlxcoatl, god of hunting and his feast in 1he fourteenth 
month, quecholli — various other mexican deities — festival in the 
second month, tlacaxipehualiztli, with notice of the gladiatorial 
sacrifices — Complete synopsis of the festivals of the Mexican Cal- 

Centeotl is a goddess, or according to some good au- 
thorities a god, who held, under many names and in many 
characters, a most important place in the divine world of 
the Aztecs, and of other Mexican and Central American 
peoples. She was goddess of maize, and consequently, 
from the importance in America of this grain, of agricul- 
ture, and of the producing earth generally. Many of her 
various names seem dependent on the varying aspects of 
the maize at different stages of its growth ; others seem to 
have originated in the mother-like nourishing qualities 



of the grain of which she was the deity. M UHer lays 
much stress on this aspect of her character: " The force 
which sustains life must also have created it. Centeotl 
was therefore considered as bringing children to light, 
and is represented with an infant in her arms, xvebel 
gives us such a representation, and in our Mexican 
museum at Basel there are many images in this form, 
made of burnt clay. Where agriculture rules, there 
more children are brought to mature age than among 
the hunting nations, and the land revels in a large popu- 
lation. Xo part of the world is so well adapted to 
exhibit this difference as America. Centeotl is conse- 
quently the great producer, not of children merely, she 
is the great goddess, the most ancient goddess." * 

Centeotl was known, according to Clavigero, by the 
titles Tonacajohua, 'she who sustains us;' Tzinteotl, 
1 original goddess ;' and by the further names Xilonen, 
Iztacacenteotl, and Tlatlauhquicenteotl. She was fur 
ther, according to the same author, identical with lo- 
nantzin, ' our mother,' and, according to Muller and 
many Spanish authorities, either identical or closely con- 
nected with the various deities known as Teteionan, ' the 
mother of the gods,' 2 Cihuatcoatl, l the snake-woman,' 
Tazi or Toci or Tocitzin, L our grandmother,' and Earth, 
the universal material mother. Squier says of Tiazol- 
teotl, that " she is Cinteotl the goddess of maize, under 
another aspect." 3 

She was particularly honored by the Totonacs, with 

1 Muller, Amerikanische Urreligionen, p. 493. 

2 Clavigero, IStoria Aid. del Messico, torn, ii., pp. 1G, 22, indeed says that 
Teteionan and Tocitzin are ' certainly different.' 

:; Squier's S^ rpent Symbol, p. 47. A passage which makes the principal ele- 
ment of the character of Toci or Tocitzin that of Goddess of Discord may 
be condensed from Acosta, as follows: When the Mexicans, in their 
wanderings, had settled for a time in the territory of (nlhuacan. they were 
instructed by their god Hnitzilopochtli to go forth and make wars.' and first 
to apotheosize, after his directions, a Goddess of Discord. Following- these 
directions, they sent to the king of Culhuacan for his daughter to be their 
queen. Moved by the honor, the father sent his hapless daughter, gorge- 
ously attired, to be enthroned. But the wiley, superstitious, and ferocious 
Mexicans slew the girl and flayed her. and clothed a young man in her skin, 
calling him 'their goddess and mother of their god.' under the name of 
Toccy. that is 'grand mother.' See also Furckas, His PUgrimes, vol. iv., 
p. 1004. 


whom she was tlie chief divinity. They greatly loved 
her, believing that she did not demand human victims, 
but was content with flowers and fruits, the fat banana 
and the yellow maize, and small animals, such as doves, 
quails, and rabbits. More, they hoped that she would in 
the end utterly deliver them from the cruel necessity of 
such sacrifices, even to the other gods. 

With very different feelings, as we shall soon see, did 
the Mexicans proper approach this deity, making her 
temples horrid with the tortured forms of human sacri- 
fices. It shows how deep the stain of the blood was in 
the Mexican religious heart, how poisonous far the odor 
of it had crept through all the senses of the Aztec soul, 
when it could be believed that the great sustainer. the 
yellow waving maize, the very mother of all, must be 
fed upon the flesh of her own children. 4 

To make comprehensible various allusions it seems 
well here to sum up rapidly the characters given of cer- 

* Clavijero, Storia Ant. del Messlco, torn, i., pp. 16-22; Explication del Codex 
Telleriano-Remensis, lam. xii., in Kingsborough's Mex. Antiq., vol.. v., p. 140; 
Spiegazione delle Tavole del Codl-e Mexicano, tav. xxx., lb., p. 180; Humboldt, 
Essai Politique, torn, i., p. 217; Schoolcraft's Arch., vol. vi., p. G31. The sacri- 
fices to Centeotl, if she be identical with the earth-mother, are illustrated 
by the statement of Mendieta, Hist. Ecles.,~p.Sl, that the Mexicans painted 
the earth-goddess as a frog with a bloody mouth in every joint of her body, 
(which frog we shall meet again by and by in a Centeotl festival; lor they 
said that the earth devoured all things — a proof also, by the by, among 
others of a like kind which we shall encounter, that not to the Hindoos alone 
(as Mr J. G. Midler somewhere affirms), but to the Mexicans also, belonged 
the idea of multiplying the organs of their deities to express great powers in 
any given direction. The following note from the Spiegazione delle Tavole 
del Codice Mexicano, in Kingsborough's Mex. Antiq., vol. v., pp. 179-80, illus- 
trates the last point noticed, gives another form or relation of the goddess of 
sustenance, and also the origin of the name applied to the Mexican 
priests: ' They feign that Mayaguil was a woman with four hundred breasts, 
and that the gods, on account of her fruitfulness, changed her into the 
Maguey, which is the vine of that country, from which they make wine. 
She presided over these thirteen signs; but whoever chanced to be born on 
the first sign of the Herb, it proved unlucky to him; for they say that it was 
applied to the Tlamatzatzguex, who were a race of demons dwelling amongst 
them, who according to their account wandered through the air, from whom 
the ministers of their temples took their denomination. When this sign 
arrived, parents enjoined their children not to leave the house, lest any mis- 
fortune or unlucky accident should befall them. They believed that those 
who were born in Two Canes, which is the second sign, would be long lived, 
for they say that that sign was applied to heaven. They manufacture so 
many things from this plant called the Maguey, and it is so very useful in that 
country, that the devil took occasion to induce them to believe that it was a 
god, and to worship and offor sacrifices to it.' 


tain goddesses identical with or resembling in various 
points this Centeotl. Chicomecoatl 5 was. according to 
Saliagun, the Ceres of Mexico, and the goddess of provi- 
sions, as well of what is drunk as of what is eaten. She 
was represented with a crown on her head, a vase in her 
right hand, and on her left arm a shield with a great 
ilower painted thereon; her garments and her sandals 
were red. 

The first of the Mexican goddesses was, following the 
same authority, Cioacoatl, or Civacoatl, the goddess of ad- 
verse things, such as poverty, downheartedness, and toil. 
She appeared often in the guise of a great lady, wearing 
such apparel as was used in the palace ; she was also heard 
at night in the air shouting and even roaring. Besides her 
name Cioacoatl, which means l snake-woman/ she was 
known as Tonantzin, that is to say, • our mother.' She 
was arrayed in white robes, and her hair was arranged 
in front, over her forehead, in little curls that crossed 
each other. It was a custom with her to carrv a cradle 
on her shoulders, as one that carries a child in it, and 
after setting it down in the market-place beside the 
other women, to disappear. When this cradle was ex~ 

■ Sahagun, Hist. Gen., torn, i., lib. i., pp. 5-6; Gallatin, in Amer. Ethnol. 
8oc, Transact.^ vol. i., pp. 311, 349-50, condensing from and commenting 
upon the codices Vatic-aims and Tellerianus says: 'Tonacacigua, alias 

Tuchiquetzal (plucking rose), and Chiconiecouatl (seven serpents); wife of 
Tonacatlecotle; the cause of sterility, famine, and miseries of life.... 
Amongst Sahagun's superior deities, is found Civacoatl, the ' serpent woman,' 
also called Tonantzin, ' our mother;' and he, sober as he is in Scriptural 
allusions, calls her Eve. and ascribes to her, as the interpreters [of the 
codices] to Tonatacinga, all the miseries and adverse things of the world. 
This analogy is. if lam not mistaken, the only foundation for all the allu- 
sions to Eve and her history, before, during, and after the sin. which the in- 
terpreters have tried to extract from paintings which indicate nothing of the 
kind. They w -re certainly mistaken in saying that their Tonacacinga was 
also called Chiconiecouatl, seven serpents. They should have said Civacoatl, 
tin* serpent woman. Chicomecoatl, instead of being the cause of sterility, 
famine, etc., is, according to Saliagun, the goddess of abundance, that which 
supplies both eating and drinking: probably the same as Tzinteotl, or Cin- 
t sotl, the goddess of maize (from centli, maize), which he does not menti< n. 
There is no more foundation for ascribing to Tonacacigua the name of Sui hi- 
quetzal.' Gaina, Dos Fie' Iras, pt i., p. 39, says in effect: Cihuacohuatl, 
or snake woman, was supposed to have given birth to two children, male 
and female, whence sprung the human race. It is on this account that 
twins are called iii Mexico cocohua, ' snakes,' or in the singular cohuatl or 
coatl, now vulgarly pronounced coate. 


amined, there was found a stone knife in it, and with 
this the priests slew their sacrificial victims. 

The goddess of Sahagun's description most resemb- 
ling the Toci of other writers, is the one that he calls 
' the mother of the gods, the heart of the earth, and 
our ancestor or grandmother (abuela).' She is de- 
scribed as the goddess of medicine and of medicinal, 
herbs, as worshiped by doctors, surgeons, blood-letters, 
of those that gave herbs to produce abortions, and also 
of the diviners that pronounced upon the fortune of 
children according to their birth. They worshiped her 
also that cast lots with grains of maize, those that augured 
by looking into water in a bowl, those that cast lots with 
bits of cord tied together, those that drew little worms 
or maggots from the mouth or eyes, those that extracted 
little stones from other parts of the body, and those that 
had sweat-baths, temazcaUis, in their houses. These last 
always set the image of this goddess in the baths, callhrn' 
her Temazcalteci, that is to say, ' the grandmother of 
the baths.' Her adorers made this goddess a feast every 
year, buying a woman for a sacrifice, decorating this 
victim with the ornaments proper to the goddess. Every 
evening they danced with this unfortunate, and regaled 
her delicately, praying her to eat as they would a great 
lady, and amusing her in every way that she might not 
weep nor be sad at the prospect of death. When the 
dreadful hour did come, having slain her, together with 
two others that accompanied her to death, they flayed 
her; then a man clothed himself in her skin, and went 
about all the city playing many pranks, — by all of which 
her identity with Tozi seems sufficiently clear. This 
goddess was represented with the mouth and chin stained 
with ulli. and a round patch of the same on her face; 
on her head she had a kind of turban made of cloth 
rolled round and knotted behind. In this knot were 
stuck plumes which issued from it like flames, and 
the ends of the cloth fell behind over the shoulders. 
She wore sandals, a shirt with a kind of broad serrated 
lower border, and white petticoats.. In her left hand 

Vol. III. 23 


she held a shield with a round plate of gold in the centre 
thereof; in her ria;ht hand she held a broom. 6 

The festival in which divers of the various manifesta- 
tions of the mother-goddess were honored, was held in 
the beginning of the eleventh Aztec month, begining on 
the 14th of September; Centeotl, or Cinteotl, or Cen- 
teutl, or Tzinteutl, is however represented therein as a 
male and not a female. 

Fifteen days before the commencement of the festival 
those that took part in it began to dance, if dancing it 
couid be called, in which the feet and body were hardly 
moved, and in which the time was kept by raising and 
lowering the hands to the beat of the drum. This went 
on for eight days, beginning in the afternoon and finishing 
with the set of sun, the dancers being perfectly silent, 
arranged in four lines, and each having both hands full 
of flowers, cut branches and all. Some of the youths, 
indeed, too restless to bear the silence, imitated with 
their mouths the sound of the drum ; but all were forced 
to keep, as well in motion as in voice, the exactest time 
and good order. On the expiration of these eight days 
the medical women, both old and young, divided them- 
selves into two parties, and fought a kind of mock battle 
before the woman that had to die in this festival, to 
amuse her and keep tears away ; for they held it of bad 
augury if this miserable creature gave way to her grief, 
and as a sign that many women had to die in child- 
birth. This woman who was called for the time being, 
J the image of the mother of the gods,' led in person the 
first attack upon one of the two parties of fighters, being 
accompanied by three old women that were to her as 
mothers and never left her side, called respectively Aoa, 
Tlavitezqui, and Xocuauhtli. 7 The fight consisted in 
pelting each other with handfuls of red leaves, or leaves 
of the nopal, or of yellow flowers called cempoalsuchitl, 
the same sort as had been carried by the actors in the 

6 KingsborougWs Mex. Antig., vol. vii., pp. 3-4; Sahagun, Hist. Gen., torn. 
i., lib. i., pp. 4-7. 

7 Or, according to Bustamante's ed., Aba, Tlavitecqui, and Xoquauchtli.' 
Sahagun, Hist Gen., torn, i., lib. ii., p. 149. 


preceding dance. These women all wore girdles, to 
which were suspended little gourds filled with powder 
of the herb called yietl. When the pelting-match was 
over, the woman that had to die was led back to the 
house where she was guarded ; and all this was repeated 
during four successive days. Then the victim represent- 
ing Toci, that is to say, ' our grandmother or ancestor,' 
for so was called the mother of the gods, was led for the 
last time through the market-place by the medical 
woman. This ceremony was called ' the farewell to the 
market-place ;' for never more should she see it who this 
day passed through, decorated in such mournful frippery, 
surrounded by the pomp of such hollow mirth. She 
went sowing maize on every side as she walked, and 
having passed through the market she was received by 
the priests who took her to a house near the cu where 
she had to be killed. There the medical women and 
mid wives consoled her: Daughter, be joyful and not sad, 
this night thou shalt sleep with the king. Then they 
adorned her with the ornaments of the goddess Toci, 
striving all the while to keep the fact of her death in the 
back-ground, that she might die suddenly and without 
knowing it. At midnight, in darkness, not so much as 
a cough breaking the silence, she was led to the holy 
temple-top, and caught up sw T iftly on the shoulders of a 
man. There was hardly a struggle ; her bearer felt him- 
self deluged with blood, while she was beheaded with 
all despatch, and flayed, still warm. The skin of the 
thighs was first taken off and carried, for a purpose to be 
presently revealed, to the cu of Centeotl, who was the 
son of Toci. With the remainder of the skin, next 
taken off, a priest clothed himself, drawing it on, it would 
appear from other records, like a glove; this priest 
who was a young man chosen for his bodily forces and 
size, thus clothed represented Toci, the goddess herself. 
The Toci priest, with this horrible jacket sticking to his 
sinewy bust, then came down from the temple amid the 
chanting of the singers of the cu. On each side of him 
went two persons, who had made a vow to help him in 


this service, and behind came several other priests. In 
front there ran a number of principal men and soldiers, 
armed with besoms of blood-stained grass, who looked 
back from time to time, and struck their shields as if 
provoking a fight; these he pretended to pursue with 
great fury, and all that saw this play (which was called 
cacacalli) feared and trembled exceedingly. On reach- 
ing the cu of Huitzilopochtli, the loci priest spread out 
his arms and stood like a cross before the image of the 
war god ; this he did four times and then w r ent on to the 
cu of Centeotl, whither, as w r e remember, the skin of the 
thighs of the flaj'ed woman had been sent, This skin 
of the thighs another young priest, representing the god 
Centeotl, son of. T oci, had put on over his face like a 
mask. In addition to this loathsome veil, he wore a 
jacket of feathers and a hood of feathers attached to the 
jacket. This hood ran out into a peak of a spiral form 
falling behind ; and the back-bone or spine of this spiral 
resembled the comb of a cock ; this hood was called ytz- 
tlacoUuhqui, that is to say 'god of frost.' 

The Toci priest and the Centeotl priest next went to- 
gether to the cu of Toci, where the first waited for 
the morning (for all this already described took 
place at night) to have certain trappings put on over 
his horrid under-vest. When the morning broke, 
amid the chanting of the singers, all the principal 
men, w r ho had been waiting below, ran with great 
swiftness up the steps of the temple carrying their 
offerings. Some of these principal men began to cover 
the feet and the head of the Toci priest with the white 
downy inner feathers of the eagle; others painted his 
face red; others put on him a rather short shirt with 
the figure of an eagle wrought or woven into the breast 
of it, and certain painted petticoats; others beheaded 
quails and offered copal. All this done quickly, these 
men took their departure. 

Then were brought forth and put on the Toci priest 
all his rich vestures, and a kind of square crown very 
wide above and ornamented with five little banners, one 


in each corner, and in the centre one higher than the 
others. All the captives that had to die were brought 
out and set in line, and he took four of them one after 
the other, threw them down on the sacrificial stone and 
took out their hearts ; the rest of the captives he handed 
over to the other priests to complete the work he had 
begun. After this he set out with the Centeotl priest 
for the cu of the latter. In advance of these a little 
way there walked a party of their devotees, called 
ycuexoan 1 decorated with papers, girt for breech-clout 
with twisted paper, carrying at their shoulders a 
crumpled paper, round like a shield, and tassels of un- 
twisted cotton. On either side also there went those 
that sold lime 8 in the market, and the medical women, 
moving to the singing of the priests and the beat of 
drum. Having come to the place where heads were 
spitted at the cu of Centeotl, the Toci priest set one foot 
on the drum and waited there for the Centeotl priest. 
The two being come together it would seem that he who 
represented Centeotl now set out alone, with much haste 
and accompanied by many soldiers, for a place on the 
enemy's frontier where there was a kind of small hut 
built. There at last was deposited and left the skin of 
the thighs of the sacrificed woman which had served 
such ghastly use. And often, it is said, it happened, 
this ceremony taking place on the border of a hostile 
territory, that the enemy sallied out against the proces- 
sion, and there was fighting and many were slain. 

After this the young man who represented the goddess 
Toci was taken to the house that is called A tern pan. 
The king took his seat on a throne with a mat of eagle- 
skin and feathers under his feet, and a tiger-skin over 
the back of his seat, and there was a grand review 7 of the 
army, and a distribution from the royal treasury of 
raiment, ornaments, and arms; and it was understood 
that those who received such arms had to die with them 
in war. This done, dancing was begun in the court- 

8 Lime was much used in the preparation of maize, for making various 
articles of food. 


yard of the temple of Toci ; and all who had received 
presents, as above, repaired thither. This dancing, as in 
the first part of the festival, consisted for the most part 
in keeping time to the beat of the drum with hands filled 
with llowers ; so that the whole court looked like a liv- 
ing garden; and there was so much gold, for the king 
and all the princes were there, that the sun flashed 
through all as on water. This began at mid-day and 
went on for two days. On the evening of the second 
day, the priests of the goddess Chicomecoatl, clothed 
with the skins of the captives that had died in a former 
day, ascended a small cu called the table of Huitzilo- 
pochtli and sowed maize of all kinds, white and yellow and 
red, and calabash-seeds, upon the heads of the people 
that were below. The people tried to gather up these as 
they fell, and elbowed each other a good deal. The 
damsels, called cioatlamaca?.que 1 that served the goddess 
Chicomecoatl, carried each one on her shoulder, rolled in 
a rich mantle, seven ears of maize, striped with melted 
ulli and wrapped in white paper; their legs and arms 
were decorated with feathers sprinkled over with mar- 
casite. These sang with the priest of their goddess. 
This done, one of the priests descended .from the above- 
mentioned cu of Huitzilopochtli, earning in his hand a 
large basket filled with powdered chalk and feather-down, 
which he set in a small chamber, or little cave, called coax- 
alpan, between the temple-stairs and the temple itself. 
This cavity was reached from below by four or i\\e steps, 
and when the basket was put down there was a general 
rush of the soldiers to be first to secure some of the contents. 
Every one, as he got his hands filled, with much elbow- 
ing, returned running to the place whence he had set 
out. All this time the Toci priest had been looking on, 
and now he pretended to chase those that ran, while they 
pelted him back with the down and powdered chalk 
they had in their hands; the king himself running a 
little way and pelting him like the rest. After this 
fashion they all ran away from him and left him alone, 
except some priests, who followed him to a place called 


Tocititlan, when he took off the skin of the sacrificed 
woman and hung it up in a little hut that was there ; 
taking care that its arms were stretched out, and that 
the head (or, surely, the neck — for have we not read 
that the head was cut off the woman on the fatal night 
which terminated her life?), was turned toward the road, 
or street. And this was the last of the ceremonies of 
the feast of Ochpaniztli. 9 

The intimate connection of the goddess Xilonen (from 
xilotl, a young or tender ear of maize) with Centeotl is 
shown by the fact that in the cu of Centeotl was killed 
the unfortunate woman who was decorated to resemble 
the goddess Xilonen. The festival of Xilonen com- 
menced on the eleventh day of the eighth Mexican month, 
which month begins on the lGth of July. The victim 
was made to resemble the image of the goddess by having 
her face painted yellow from the nose downward, and her 
brow red. On her head was put a crown of paper with 
four corners, from the centre and top of which issued 
many plumes. Round her neck and over her breasts 
hung strings of precious stones, and over these was put 
a round medal of gold. Her garments and sandals were 
curiously wrought, the latter painted with red stripes. 
On her left arm was a shield, and in the right hand she 
held a stick, or baton, painted yellow. The women led 
her to death dancing round her, and the priests and the 
principal men danced before them, sowing incense as 
they went. The priest who was to act as executioner 
had on his shoulders a bunch of feathers held there in 
the grip of an eagle's talons, artificial; another of the 
priests carried the hollow board filled with rattles, so 
often mentioned. At the foot of the cu of Centeotl, this 
latter stopped in front of the Xilonen woman, scattered 
incense before her, and rattled with his board, waving 
it from side to side. They ascended the cu, and one of 
the priests caught the victim up, twisting her backwards, 
her shoulders against his shoulders; on which living 

Kin'isborou'ih's Mex. Antiq., vol. vii., pp. 69-70; SaJiagun, Hist. Gen., torn, 
i., lib. ii., pp. H8-56. 


altar her heart was cut out through her breast, and put 
into a cup. After that there was more dancing, in 
which the women, old and young, took part in a body by 
themselves, their arms and le^s decorated with red ma- 
caw feathers, and their faces painted yellow and dusted 
with marcasite. There was also a banquet of small 
pies called xocotamalli, during which to the old men and 
women license was given to drink pulque; the }oung, 
however, being restrained from the bacchanalian part of 
this enjoyment by severe and sometimes capital punish- 
ment. 10 

Lastly, the intimate connection or identity of Centeotl 
with the earth-mother, the all-nourisher, seems clearly 
symbolized in the feast of the fourth month of the Mexi- 
cans, which began on the 27th of April. In it they 
made a festival to the god of cereals, under the name of 
Centeotl, and to the goddess of provisions, called Chico- 
mecoatl. First they fasted four days, putting certain 
rushes or water-flags beside the images of the gods, stain- 
ing the white part of the bottom of each rush with blood 
drawn from their ears or legs; branches too, of the kind 
called acxoiatl, and a kind of bed or mattress of hay 
were put before the altars. A sort of porridge of maize 
called mammorra was also made and given to the youths. 
Then all walked out into the country, and through the 
maize-fields, carrying stalks of maize, and other herbs 
called mecoatl. With these they strewed the image of 
the god of cereals that every one had in his house, and 
they put papers on it and food before it of various kinds; 
five chiquivites, 11 or baskets, of tortillas, and on the top 
of each chiquivitl a cooked frog, a basket of chia a 1 ' 2 flour, 
which they call plnoUi ; 13 and a basket of toasted maize 
mixed with beans. They cut also a joint from a green 
maize-stalk, stuffed the little tube with morsels of every 

10 K'mgsborourih's Mex. Antiq., vol. vii., pp. 60-1; Sahaqun, Hist. Gen., torn. 
i., lib. ii., pp. 135-9; Clavigero, Storla Ant. del Messico, torn, ii., p. 75; Tor- 
quemada, Monarq. Lid., torn, ii., pp. 2G9-71. 

11 Chiquiuitl, cesto d canasta. Molina, Vocdbulario. 

12 Chian, <> Chia, cierta semilla de que sacan azeite. Id. 

13 Pinolli, la karma de mayz y chia, antes cme la deslian. Id. 


kind of the above-mentioned food, and set it carefully 
on the back of the frog. 14 This each one did in his own 
house, and in the afternoon all this offering of food was 
carried to the cu of the goddess of provisions, of the god- 
dess Chicomecoatl, and eaten there in a general scramble, 
take who take could ; symbolizing one knows not what, 
if not the laisser-faire and laisser-aller system of national 
commisariat much advocated by many political econo- 
mists, savage and civilized. 

In this festival the ears of maize that w r ere preserved 
for seed were carried in procession by virgins to a cu, 
apparently the one just mentioned, but which is here 
called the cu of Chicomecoatl and of Centeotl. The 
maidens carried on their shoulders not more than seven 
ears of corn apiece, sprinkled with drops of oil of ulli, 
and wrapped first in papers and then in a cloth. The 
legs and arms of these girls were ornamented with red 
feathers, and their faces were smeared with the pitch 
called chapopotll and sprinkled with marcasite. As they 
went along in this bizarre attire, the people croAvded to 
see them pass, but it was forbidden to speak to them. 
Sometimes indeed an irrepressible youth would break 
out into words of admiration or love toward some fair 
pitch-besmeared face, but his answer came sharp and 
swift from one of the old women that watched the 
younger, in some such fashion as this: And so thou 
speakest, raw coward ! thou must be speaking, eh ? Think 
first of performing some man's feat, and get rid of that 
tail of hair at the nape of thy neck that marks the 
coward and the good-for-nothing. It is not for thee to 
speak here ; thou art as much a woman as I am ; thou 
hast never come out from behind the fire! But the 
young lovers of Tenochtitlan w r ere not without insolent 
springalls among them, much given to rude gibes, and 
retorts like the following: Well said, my lady, I receive 
this with thanks, I will do what you command me, 
will take care to show myself a man; but as for you, 

11 Apparently the earth symbolized as a frog (see this vol. p. 351, note 4.) 
and bearing the fruits thereof on her buck. 


I value two cacao-beans more than you and all your 
lineage; put mud on your body, and scratch yourself; 
fold one leg over the other and roll in the dust; see! 
here is a rough stone, knock your face against it; and if 
you want anything more take a red-hot coal and burn a 
hole in your throat to spit through; for God's sake, hold 
your peace. 

This the young fellows said, writes Sahagun, to show 
their courage; and so it went, give and take, till the 
maize was carried to the cu and blessed. Then the 
folk returned to their houses and sanctified maize was 
put in the bottom of every granary, and it was said 
that it was the heart thereof, and it remained there till 
taken out for seed. These ceremonies were specially in 
honor of the goddess Chicomecoatl. She supplied pro- 
visions, she it was that had made all kinds of maize and 
frijoles, and whatsover vegetables could be eaten, and all 
sorts of chia; and for this they made her that festival 
with offerings of food, and with songs and dances, and 
with the blood of quails. All the ornaments of her attire 
were bright red and curiously wrought, and in her 
hands they put stalks of maize. 15 

The Mexicans deified, under the name Cioapipilti, 
all women that died in child-bed. There were ora- 
tories raised to their honor in every ward that had two 
streets. In such oratories, called cioaUucaVu or ciatmpan, 
there were kept images of these goddesses adorned with 
certain papers called amatetevitl. The eighth movable 
feast of the Mexican calendar was dedicated to them, 
falling in the sign Cequiahuitl, in the first house; in this 
feast were slain in their honor all lying in the jails under 
pain of death. These goddesses were said to move 
through the air at pleasure, and to appear to whom they 
would of those that lived upon the earth, and sometimes 
to enter into and possess them. They were accustomed 
to hurt children with various infirmities, especially paral- 

15 KingsborouqW 's ^fc.r. Antiq., vol. vii.. pp. 43-4; Sahagun, Hist. Gen., torn. 
i., lib. ii., pp. 97-11)0; Clavijero, Storla Ant. del Messico, torn, ii., p. G7; Tor- 
qucmada, Monarq. Ind., torn, ii., pp. 52-3, (JU-1, 134, 152-3, 181, L55-G. 


ysis and other sudden diseases. Their favorite haunt 
on earth was the cross-roads, and, on certain days of the 
year, people would not go out of their houses for fear of 
meeting them. They w r ere propitiated in their temples 
and at the cross-roads by offerings of bread kneaded into 
various shapes, — into figures of butter-flies and thunder- 
bolts for example, — by offerings of small tamales, or 
pies, and of toasted maize. Their images, besides 
the papers above mentioned, were decorated by having 
the face, arms, and legs painted very w r hite; their ears 
were made of gold ; their hair w r as dressed like that of 
ladies, in little curls; the shirt was painted over with 
black waves; the petticoats were worked in divers colors; 
the sandals were white. 

The mother-goddess, under the form of the serpent- 
woman, Cioacoatl, or Ciuacoatl, or Cihuacoatl, or, lastly, 
Quilaztli, seems to have been held as the patroness of 
women in child-bed generally, and, especially, of those 
that died there. When the delivery of a woman was 
likely to be tedious and dangerous, the midwife ad- 
dressed the patient saying: Be strong, my daughter; w r e 
can do nothing for thee. Here are present thy mother 
and thy relations, but thou alone must conduct this busi- 
ness to its termination. See to it, my daughter, my well- 
beloved, that thou be a strong and valiant and manly 
woman ; be like her w r ho first bore children, like Cioa- 
coatl, like Quilaztli. And if still after a day and a 
night of labor the woman could not bring forth, the mid- 
wile took her away from all other persons and brought 
her into a closed room and made many prayers, calling 
upon the goddess Cioacoatl, and upon the goddess Yoal- 
ticitl, 10 and upon other goddesses. If, notwithstanding 

16 Yoalticitl, another name of the mother-goddess, of the mother of the 
gods, of the mother of us all, of our grand-mother or ancestress; more par- 
ticularly that form of the mother-goddess described, after Sahagun (this vol. 
p. 353), as being the patroness of medicine and of doctors and of the sweat- 
baths. Sahagun speaks in another passage of Yoalticitl (Kingsborough's 
Mex. Antiq., vol. v., p. 45.'}) : La madre de los Dioses, que es la Diosa de las 
medicinas y medicos, y es madre de todos nosotros, la cual se llama Yoalti- 
citl, la qual tiene poder y autoridad sobre los Temazcales (sweat-baths) que 
Hainan Xuchicalli, en el qual lugar esta Diosa ve las cosas secretas, y adereza 


all, however, the woman died, they gave her the title, 
mociaquezqui, that is i valiant woman,' and they washed 
all her body, and washed with soap her head and her 
hair. Her husband lifted her on his shoulders, and, 
with her long hair flowing loose behind him, carried her 
to the place of burial. All the old midwives accom- 
panied the body, marching with shields and swords, and 
shouting as when soldiers close in the attack. They 
had need of their weapons, for the body that they 
escorted was a holy relic which many were eager to win ; 
and a party of youths fought with these Amazons to take 
their treasure from them: this fight was no play but a 
very bone-breaking earnest. The burial procession set 
out at the setting of the sun and the corpse was interred 
in the courtyard of the cu of the goddesses, or celestial 
women called Cioapipilti. Four nights the husband 
and his friends guarded the grave and four nights the 
youths, or rawest and most inexperienced soldiers, 
prowled like wolves about the little band. If, either 
from the fighting midwives or from the ni^ht-watchers, 

D ~ 7 

they succeeded in securing the body, they instantly cut 
off the middle finger of the left hand and the hair of 
the head ; either of these things being put in one's shield, 
made one fierce, brave, invincible in war, and blinded 
the eyes of one's enemies. There prowled also round 
the sacred tomb certain wizards, called temamacpalitoti- 
que, seeking to hack off and steal the whole left arm of 
the dead wife; for they held it to be of mighty potency 
in their enchantments, and a thing that when they went 
to a house to work their malice thereon, would wholly 
tike away the courage of the inmates, and dismay them 
so that they could neither move hand nor foot, though 
they saw all that passed. 

The death of this woman in child-bed was mourned 
by the midwives, but her parents and relations were 
jo\'fal thereat; for they said that she did not go to hades, 
or the under-ground world, but to the western part of 

las cosas desconcertadas en los cuerpos de los hornbres, y fortinca las cosas 
tieruas y blandas. 


the House of the Sun. To the eastern part of the House of 
the Sun, as the ancients said, were taken up all the 
soldiers that died in war. When the sun rose in the 
morning these brave men decorated themselves in their 
panoply of war, and accompanied him towards the mid- 
heaven, shouting and fighting, apparently in a sham or 
review battle, until they reached the point of noon- 
day, which was called nepantlatonatiuh. At this point 
the heroines, whose home was in the west of heaven, the 
mocioaquezque, the valiant women, dead in child-bed, who 
ranked as equal with the heroes fallen in war, met these 
heroes and relieved them of their duty as guards of 
honor of the sun. From noon till night, down the 
western slope of light, while the forenoon escort of war- 
riors were scattered through all the fields and gardens of 
heaven, sucking flowers till another day should call 
them anew to their duty, the women, in panoply of war, 
just as the men had been, and fighting like them with 
clashing shields and shouts of joy, bore the sun 
to his setting; carrying him on a litter of quetzaks, or 
rich feathers, called the quetzal-apanecaiutl. At this 
setting-place of the sun the women were, in their turn, 
relieved by those of the under world, who here came out 
to receive him. For it was reported of old by the 
ancients that when night began in the upper world the 
sun began to shine through hades, and that thereupon 
the dead rose up from their sleep and bore his shin- 
ing litter through their domain. At this hour too the 

o o 

celestial women, released from their duty in heaven, 
scattered and poured down through the air upon the 
earth, where, with a touch of the dear nature that makes 
the world kin, they are described as looking for spindles 
to spin with, and shuttles to weave with, and all the old 
furniture and implements of their house-wifely pride. 
This thing, says Sahagun, " the devil wrought to deceive 
withal, for very often, in the form of those women, he 
appeared to their bereaved husbands, giving them petti- 
coats and shirts." 

Very beautiful was the form of address before burial 


used by the midwife to the dead woman who had taken 
rank among the mocioaqaezque or mocioaquetza : woman, 
strong and warlike, child well-beloved, valiant one, 
beautiful and tender dove, strong hast thou been and 
toil-enduring as a hero; thou hast conquered, thou hast 
done as did thy mother the lady Cioacoatl, or Quilaztli. 
Yery valiantly hast thou fought, stoutly hast thou 
handled the shield and the spear that the great mother 
put in thine hand. Up with thee! break from sleep! 
behold it is already day; already the red of morning 
shoots through the clouds; alreadv the swallows and all 
birds are abroad. Rise, my daughter, attire thyself, go 
to that good land where is the house of thy father and 
mother the Sun; thither let thy sisters, the celestial 
women, cany thee, they that are always joyful and 
merry and filled with delight, because of the Sun with 
whom they take pleasure. My tender daughter and 
lady, not without sore travail hast thou gotten the glory 
of this victory ; a great pain and a hard penance hast 
thou undergone. Well and fortunately hast thou pur- 
chased this death. Is this, perad venture, a fruitless 
death, and without great merit and honor? Nay, verily, 
but one of much honor and profit. Who receives other 
such great mercy, other such happy victory as thou ? for 
thou hast gained with thy death eternal life, a life full 
of joy and delight, with the goddesses called Cioapipilti, 
the celestial goddesses. Go now, my lady, my well- 
beloved; little by little advance toward them; be one of 
them, that they may receive thee and be always with 
thee, that thou mayest rejoice and be glad in our father 
and mother the Sun, and accompany him whithersoever 
he wish to take pleasure. my lady, my well-beloved 
daughter, thou hast left us behind, us old people, un- 
worthy of such glory ; thou hast torn thyself away from 
thy father and mother, and departed. Not indeed of 
thine own will, but thou wast called ; thou didst follow 
a voice that called. We must remain orphans and for- 
lorn, old and luckless and poor; misery will glorify it- 
self in us. my lady, thou hast left us here that we 


may go from door to door and through the streets in 
poverty and sorrow; we pray thee to remember us 
where thou art, and to provide for the poverty that 
we here endure. The sun wearies us with his great 
heat, the air with its coldness, and the frost with 
its torment. All these things afflict and grieve our 
miserable earthen bodies; hunger is lord over us, and 
we can do nothing against it. My well-beloved, I pray 
thee to visit us since thou art a valorous woman and a 
lady, since thou art settled forever in the place of delight 
and blessedness, there to live and be forever with our 
Lord. Thou seest him with thine eyes, thou speakest to 
him with thy tongue, pra}^ to him for us, entreat him 
that he favor us, and therewith we shall be at rest. 17 

Chalchihuitlicue or Chalchiuhcyeje is described by 
Clavigero as the goddess of water and the mate of Tla- 
loc. She had other names relating to water in its differ- 
ent states, as Apozonallotl and Acuecuejotl, which mean 
the swelling and fluctuation of water; Atlacamani, or 
the storms excited thereon; Ahuic and Aiauli, or its 
motion, now to one side, now to the other; and Xixiqui- 
pilihui, the alternate rising and falling of the waves. 
The Tlascaltecs called her Matlalcueje, that is 'clothed 
in a green robe;' and they gave the same name to the 
highest mountain of Tlascala, on whose summit are found 
those stormy clouds which generally burst over the city 
of Puebla. To that summit the Tlascaltecs ascended 
to perform their sacrifices, and offer up their prayers. 
This is the very same goddess of water to whom Tor- 
quemada gives the name of Hochiquetzal, and Boturini 
that of Macuilxochiquetzalli. 18 

Of the accuracy of the assertions of this last sen- 
tence I am by no means certain; Boturini and Tor- 
quemada both describe their goddess of water with- 
out giving any support thereto. Boturini says that 

17 Kingsborourilt's Mex. Antiq., vol. vii., pp. 5, 35, vol. v., pp. 459-2; 
Sahagun, Wist. Gen., torn, i., lib. i., pp. 8-9, lib. ii., pp. 78-9; torn, ii., lib. 
vi., pp. 185-191. 

la Clavigero, Storia Ant. del Messico, torn, ii., p. 16. 


she was metaphorically called by the Mexicans the 
goddess of the Petticoat of Precious Stones, — chal- 
chihuites, as it would appear from other authorities, 
being meant, — and that she was represented with 
large pools at her feet, and symbolized by certain 
reeds that grow in moist places. She was par- 
ticularly honored by fishermen and others whose trade 
connected them with water, and great ladies were ac- 
customed to dedicate to her their nuptials — probably, 
as will be seen immediately, because this goddess had 
much to do with certain lustral ceremonies performed 
on new-born children. 19 

Main' names, writes Torquemada, were given to this 
goddess, but that of Chalchihuitlicue was the most com- 
mon and usual ; it meant to say, ' petticoat of water, of 
a shade between ereen and blue,' that is, of the color of 
the stones called chalchihuites. 20 She was the com- 
panion, not the wife of Tlaloc, for indeed as our author 
aifirms, the Mexicans did not think so grossly of their 
gods and goddesses as to marry them. 21 

According to Sahagun, Chalchihuitlicue was the sister 
of the Tlalocs. She was honored because she had power 
over the waters of the sea and of the rivers to drown 

19 Boturini, Idea. pp. 25-6. 

20 ' The stones called chalcMuites by the Mexicans (and written variously 
chalchibetes, chalchihuis, and calchihuis, by the chroniclers) were esteemed of 
high value by all the Central American and Mexican nations. They were 
generally of green quartz, jade, or the stone known as madre de Esmeralda 
. . . .The goddess of water, amongst the Mexicans, bore the name of Chalchiuil- 
cuye, the woman of the ChalcMuites, and the name of Chalchiuihapan was 
often applied to the city of Tlaxcalla, from a beautiful fountain of water 
found near it, 'the color of which,' according to Torquemada, 'was 
between blue and green.' ' Squier in Palacio, Carta, p. 110, note 15. In 
the same work p. 53, we find mention made by Palacio of an idol ap- 
parently representing Chalchihuitlicue: 'Very near here, is a little village 
called Coatan, in the neighborhood of which is a lake [" This lake is distant 
two leagues to the southward of the present considerable town of Guatepeqve, 
from which it takes its name, Laguna de Guatepue " — Guatemala], situated 
on the flank of the volcano. Its water is bad; it is deep, and full of cay- 
mans. In its middle there are two small islands. The Indians regard the 
lake as an ora:le of much authority. . I learned that certain negioes and 
mulattos of an adjacent estate had been there [on the islands], and had 
found a great idol of stone, in the form of a woman, and some objects which 
had been offered in sacrifice. Near by were found some stones called chul- 

21 Torquemada, Monarq. hid , torn, ii., p. 47. 


those that went down to them, to raise tempests and 
whirlwinds, and to cause boats to founder. They 
worshiped her all those that dealt in water, that went 
about selling it from canoes, or peddled jars of it in the 
market. They represented this goddess as a woman, 
painted her face yellow, save the forehead, which was 
often blue, and hung round her neck a collar of pre- 
cious stones from which depended a medal of gold. On 
her head was a crown of light blue paper, with plumes of 
green feathers, and tassels that fell to the nape of her neck. 
Her ear-rings were of turquoise wrought in mosaic. Her 
clothing was a shirt, or upper body-garment, clear blue 
petticoats with fringes from which hung marine shells, 
and white sandals. In her left hand she held a shield, 
and a leaf of the broad round white water-lily, called atla- 
cuezona. 22 In her right hand she held as a sceptre a vessel 
in the shape of a cross, or of a monstrance of the Catholic 
Church. This goddess, together with Chicomecoatl, 
goddess of provisions, and Yixtocioatl, goddess of salt, 
was held in high veneration by kings and lords, for they 
said that these three supported the common people so 
that they could live and multiply. 23 

Chalchihuitlicue was especially connected with certain 
ceremonies of lustration of children, resembling in many 

22 Atlacueconan, ninfa vel onenufar, flor ole yerna de agua. Molina, Vocctb- 
ulario. The Abbe Brasseur adds, on what authority I have not been able 
to find, that this leaf was ornamented with golden flags. Hist, des Nat. Civ., 
torn, i., p. 324. He adds in a note to this passage, what is very true, that, 
' Suivant Ixtlilxochitl, et apres lui Veytia, la deesse des eauxaurait etc adoree 
sous la forme d'une grenouille, faite d'une seule ememude. et qui, suivant 
Ixtlilxochitl, existait encore an temps de la complete de Mexico. La seule 
di'esse adoree sous la forme unique dune grenouille etait la terre.' (See 
this vol. p. 351, note 4.) Gomara. Hist. C'onq Mex., fol. 326, says that the 
figure of a frog was held to be the goddess of fishes: ' Entre los idolos. . . . ts- 
taua el de la rama. A la cual tenian por diosa del pescado.' Motoliria ex- 
tends this last statement as follows. The Mexicans had idols he says, in 
Iciizbalceta, Col. de Doc, torn, i., p. 34, ' de los pescados grandes y de los la- 
gartos de agua, hasta sapos y ranas, y de otros peces grandes, y estos decian 
que eran los dioses del peseado. De un pueblo de la laguna de Mexico 
llevaron unos idolos de estos peces, que eran unos hechos de piedra, 
grandes; y despues volviendo por alii pidieronles para comer algunos peces, 
y respondieron que habian llevado el dios del pescado y que no podian to- 
mar peces.' 

2;i Kingsborough's Mex. Antiq., vol. vii., pp. 5-6, 3G; Sahagun, Hist. Gen., 
torn, i , lib. i., pp. 9-TU, lib. ii., p. 81; Amer. Ethnol. Soc, transact, vol. i., 
pp. 342, 35 >. 

Vol. III. 24 


points baptism among Christians. It would seem that 
two of these lustrations were practiced upon every in- 
fant, and the first took place immediately upon its birth. 
When the midwife had cut the umbilical cord of the 
child, then she washed it, and while washing it said, 
varying her address according to its sex: My son, ap- 
proach now thy mother, Chalchihuitlicue, the goddess of 
water; may she see good to receive thee, to wash thee, 
and to put away from thee the filthiness that thou takest 
from thy father and mother ; may she see good to purify 
thine heart, to make it good and clean, and to instill 
into thee good habits and manners. 

Then the midwife turned to the water itself and spoke: 
Most compassionate lady, Chalchihuitlicue, here has come 
into the world this thy servant, sent hither by our 
father and mother, whose names are Ometecutli and 
Omecioatl, 24 who live on the ninth heaven, which is the 
place of the habitation of the gods. We know not what 
are the gifts that this infant brings with it; we know 
not what was given to it before the beginning of the 
world ; we know not what it is, nor what mischief and 
vice it brings with it taken from its father and mother. 
It is now in thine hands, wash and cleanse it as thou know- 
est to be necessary ; in thine hands we leave it. Purge 
it from the filthiness it inherits from its father and its 
mother, all spot and defilement let the water carry away 
and undo. See good, our lady, to cleanse and purify 
its heart and life that it may lead a quiet and peaceable 
life in this world ; for indeed we leave this creature in 
thine hands, who art mother and lady of the gods, and 
alone worthy of the gift of cleansing that thou has held 
from before the beginning of the world ; see good to do 
as we have entreated thee to this child now in thy pre- 

Then the midwife spake again ; I pray thee to receive 
this child here brought before thee. This said, the mid- 
wife took water and blew her breath upon it, and gave 
to taste of it to the babe, and touched the babe with it 

24 See this vol., p. 58, note 15. 


on the breast and on the top of the head. Then she 
said : My well-beloved son, or daughter, approach here 
thy mother and father, Chalchihuitlicue and Chalchihui- 
tlatonac; let now this goddess take thee, for she has to 
bear thee on her shoulders and in her arms through this 
world. Then the midwife dipped the child into water 
and said: Enter, my son, into the water that is called 
mamathc and tuspalac) let it wash thee; let him cleanse 
thee that is in every place, let him see good to put away 
from thee all the evil that thou hast carried with thee 
from before the beginning of the world, the evil that 
thy father and thy mother have joined to thee. Hav- 
ing so washed the creature, the midwife then wrapped 
it up, addressing it the while as follows: precious 
stone, rich feather, emerald, sapphire, thou wert 
shaped where abide the great god and the great goddess 
that are above the heavens; created and formed thou 
wert by thy mother and father, Ometecutli and Omeci- 
oatl, the celestial woman and the celestial man. Thou 
hast come into this world, a place of many toils and 
troubles, of intemperate heat and intemperate cold and 
wind, a place of hunger and thirst, of weariness and of 
tears; of a verity we cannot say that this world is other 
than a place of weeping, of sadness, of vexation. Be- 
hold thy lot, weariness and weeping and tears. Thou 
hast come, my well-beloved, repose then and take here 
thy rest ; let our Lord that is in every place provide for 
and support thee. And in saying all these things the 
midwife spake softly, as one that prays. 

The second lustration or baptism, usually took place 
on the fifth day after birth, but in even' case the astrolo- 
gers and diviners were consulted, and if the signs were 
not propitious, the baptism was postponed till a day of 
good sign came. The ceremony, when the child was a 
boy, began by bringing to it a little shield, bow, and 
arrows; of which arrows there were four, one pointing 
toward each of the four points of the world. There 
were also brought a little shield, bow r , and arrows, made 
of paste or dough of wild amaranth seeds, and a pottage 


of beans and toasted maize, and a little breech-clout and 
blanket or mantle. The poor in such cases had no more 
than the little shield, bow. and arrows, together with some 
ta males and toasted maize. When the child was a girl, 
there were brought to it, instead of mimic weapons, cer- 
tain woman's implements and tools for spinning and 
weaving, the spindle and distaff, a little shirt and petti- 
coats. These things being prepared, suiting the sex of 
the infant, its parents and relatives assembled before 
sunrise. When the sun rose the midwife asked for a 
new vessel full of water; and she took the child in her 
hands. Then the bv-standers carried all the implements 
and utensils already mentioned into the court-yard of 
the house, where the midwife set the face of the child 
toward the west, and spake to the child saying: 
grandson of mine, eagle, tiger, valiant man, 
thou hast come into the world, sent bv thy father and 
mother, the great Lord and the great lad}*; thou wast 
created and begotten in thy house, which is the place of 
the supreme gods that are above the nine heavens. Thou 
art a gift from our son Quetzalcoatl, who is in every 
place; join thyself now to thy mother, the goddess of 
water, Chalchihuitlicue. 

Then the midwife gave the child to taste of the water, 
putting her moistened fingers in its mouth, and said: 
Take this; by this thou hast to live on the earth, to 
grow and to flourish ; through this we get all things that 
support existence on the earth ; receive it. Then with 
her moistened fingers she touched the breast of the child, 
and said: Behold the pure water that washes and 
cleanses thine heart, that removes all filthiness; receive 
it ; ma} r the goddess see good to purify and cleanse thine 
heart. Then the midwife poured water upon the head 
of the child saying: my grandson, my son, take this 
water of the Lord of the world, which is thv life, in- 
vigorating and refreshing, washing and cleansing. I 
pray that this celestial water, blue and light blue, may 
enter into thy body and there live; I pray that it may 
destroy in thee and put away from thee all the things 


evil and adverse that were given thee before the begin- 
ning of the world. Into thine hand, goddess of water, 
are all mankind put, because thou art our mother Chal- 
chihuitlicue. Having so washed the body of the child 
and so spoken, the midwife said : Wheresoever thou art 
in this child, thou hurtful thing, begone, leave it, put 
thyself apart ; for now does it live anew, and anew is it 
born ; now again is it purified and cleansed ; now again 
is it shaped and engendered by our mother the goddess 
of water. 

All these things being done and spoken, the midwife 
lifted the child in both her hands toward heaven and 
said: Lord, behold here thy creature that thou hast 
sent to this place of pain, of affliction, of anguish, to this 
world. Give it, Lord, thy gifts and thine inspira- 
tion, forasmuch as thou art the great god, and hast with 
thee the great goddess. Then the midwife stooped again 
and set the child upon the earth, and raised it the second 
time toward heaven, saying: our lady, who art 
mother of the heavens, who art called Citlalatonac, 25 to 
thee I direct my voice and my cry; I pray thee to in- 
spire with thy virtue, what virtue soever it may be. to 
give and to instil it into this creature. Then the mid- 

25 See note 24. ' Entre los Dioses que estos ciegos Mexicanos fingieron 
tener, y ser maiores, que otros, fueron dos; vno UamadoJ Ometecuhtli, que 
quiere decir, dos hidalgos, 6 cavalleros; y el otro Uamaron Omeeihuatl, que 
quiere decir, dos mugeres: los quales, por otros nombres, fueron llamados, 
Citlalatonac, que quiere decir, Estrella que resplandece, 6 resplandeciente; 
y el otro, Cillalicue, que quiere decir, Faldellin de la Estrella: . . . .Estos dos 
Dioses tingidos de esta Gentilidad, cre\an ser el vno Hombre, y el otro 
Muger; y como a dos naturalecas distintas, y do distintos sexos las nombra- 
ban, como por los nombres dichos parece. De estos dos Dioses, (o por 
mejor decir, Demonios) tuvieron ereulo estos naturales, que residian en vna 
Ciudad gloriosa, asentada sobre los once Cielos, cuio suelo era mas alto, y su- 
premo de ellos; y que en aquella Ciudad gocaban de todos los deleites imagin- 
ables y poseian todas las riquecas de el Mundo; y decian. que desde alii arriba 
regian, y governaban toda esta maquina inferior del Mundo, y todo aquello 
que es visible, e invisible, innuiendo en todas las Animas, que criaban todas 
las inclinaciones naturales, que vemos aver en todas las criaturas racionales, 
e irracionales ; y que cuidaban de todo, como por naturaleca los convenia, 
atalaindo desde aquel su asiento las cosas criadas. . . .De manera, que segun 
lo dicho, esta mui claro de entender, que tenian opinion, que les que regian, 
y governaban el Mundo, eran dos (conviene a saber) vn Dios, y vna Diosa, 
de los quales el vno que era el Dios Hombre, obraba en todo el genero de 
los. Varnies; y el otro, que era la Diosa, criaba, y obraba en todo el genero 
de las Mugeres.' Torque mada, Monarq. Intl., torn, ii., p. 37. 


wife stooped again and set the child on the ground, and 
raised it the third time toward heaven, and said: our 
Lord, god and goddess celestial, that are in the heavens, 
behold this creature ; see good to pour into it thy virtue 
and thy breath, so that it may live upon the earth. 
Then a fourth and last time the midwife set the babe 
upon the ground, a fourth time she lifted it toward 
heaven, and she spake to the sun and said: our Lord, 
Sun, Totonametl, Tlaltecutli, that art our mother and our 
lather, behold this creature, which is like a bird of pre- 
cious plumage, like a zaquan or a quechutl; 26 thine, our 
Lord the Sun, he is; thou who art valiant in war and 
painted like a tiger in black and gray, he is thy creature 
and of thine estate and patrimony. For this he was 
born, to serve thee and to give thee food and drink : he 
is of the family of warriors and soldiers that fight on 
the field of battle. 

Then the midwife took the shield, and the bow and 

26 Oaquantototl. paxaro de plunia araarillo y rica. Molina, Vocabulario. 
According to Bustamante however, this bird is not one in anyway remark- 
able for plumage, but is identical with the tzacua described by Clavigero, and 
is here used as an example of a vigilant and active soldier. Bustamante (in 
a note to Sahagun, Hist. Gen., torn, ii., lib. vi., pp. 194-5) writes: Tzacua, 
of this bird repeated mention has been made in this history, for the Indians 
used it for a means of comparison or simile in their speeches. It is an early- 
rising bird (madrugador), and has nothing notable in its plumage or in its 
voice, but only in its habits. This bird is one of the last to go to rest at 
night and one of the first to announce the coming sun. An hour before day- 
break a bird of this species, having passed the night with many of his fel- 
lows on any branch, begins to call them, with a shrill clear note that he 
keeps repeating in a glad tone till some of them reply. The tzacua is about 
the size of a sparrow, and very similar in color to the bunting (calandria), 
but more marvellous in its habits. It is a social bird, each tree is a town of 
many nests. One tzacua plays the part of chief and guards the rest; his post 
i> in the top of the tree, whence, from time to time, he flies from nest to nest 
uttering his notes; and while he is visiting a nest all within are silent. If 
he sees any bird of another species approaching the tree he sallies out uron 
the invader and with beak and wings compels a retreat. But if he sees a 
man or any large object advancing, he flies screaming to a neighboring 
tree, and, meeting other birds of his tribe flying homeward, he obliges them 
to retire by changing the tone of his note. When the danger is over he re- 
turns to his tree and begins his rounds as before, from nest to nest. Tzacuas 
abound in Miclioacan, and to their observations regarding them the Indians 
are doubtless indebted for many hints and comparisons applied to soldiers 
diligent in duty. The quechutl, or tlauhqueckol, is a large aquatic bird with 
plumage of a beautiful scarlet color, or a reddish white, except that of the 
n^ck, which is black. Its home is on the sea-shore and by the river banks, 
where it feeds on live fish, never touching dead flesh. See Clavigero, Stvi'ia 
Ant. del Messico, torn, i., pp. 87, 91-3. 


the dart that were there prepared, and spake to the Pun 
after this sort: Behold here the instruments of Avar 
which thou art served with, which thou delightest in ; 
impart to this babe the gift that thou art wont to give 
to thy soldiers, enabling them to go to thine house of 
delights, where, having fallen in battle, they rest and are 
joyful and are now with thee praising thee. "Will this 
poor little nobody ever be one of them? Have pity upon 
him, clement Lord of ours. 

During all the time of these ceremonies a great torch 
of candlewood was burning; and when these ceremonies 
were accomplished, a name was given to the child, that 
of one of his ancestors, so that he might inherit the for- 
tune or lot of him whose name was so taken. This name 
was applied to the child by the midwife, or priestess, 
who performed the baptism. Suppose the name given 
was Yautl. Then the midwife began to shout and to 
talk like a man to the child : Yautl, valiant man, 
take this shield and this dart; these are for thy amuse- 
ment, they are the delight of the sun. Then she tied 
the little mantle on its shoulders and girt the breech- 
clout about it. Now all the boys of the ward were as- 
sembled, and at this stage of the ceremony they rushed 
into the house where the baptism had taken place, and 
representing soldiers and forrayers, they took food that 
was there prepared for them, which w r as called ' the 
navel-string,' or 'navel,' of the child, and set out with 
it into the streets, shouting and eating. The)' cried 
Yautl, Yautl, get thee to the field of battle, put thyself 
into the thickest of the fight; Yautl, Yautl, thine office 
is to make glad the sun and the earth, to give them to 
eat and to drink; upon thee has fallen the lot of the 
soldiers that are eagles and tigers, that die in war, that 
are now making merry and singing before the sun. 
And they cried again : O soldiers, men of war, come 
hither, come to eat of the navel of Yautl. Then the 
midwife, or priestess, took the child into the house, and 
departed, the great torch of candlewood being carried 


burnino; before her, and this was the last of the cere- 
moii}*. 27 

27 Kingsborough's Mex. Antiq., vol. v., pp. 479-183, vol. vii., pp. 151-2; 
Sahagun, Hist. Gen., torn, ii., lib. vi., pp. 215-221. According to some au- 
thors, and I think Boturini for one, this baptism was supplemented by pass- 
ing the child through lire. There was such a ceremony ; however, it was 
not connected with that of baptism, but it took place on the last night of 
every fourth year, before the five unlucky days. On the last night of every 
fourth year, parents chose god-parents for their children born during the 
three preceding years, and these god-fathers and god-mothers passed the 
children over, or near to, or about the flame of a pr< pared fire (rodearlos por 
las llamas del fuego que tenian aparejado para esto, que en el latin se dice 
lustrare). They also bored the children's ears, which caused no small up- 
roar (Habia gran voceria de muchachos y muchachas por el ahugeramiento 
de las or ej as) as may well be imagined. They clasped the children by the 
temples and lifted them up ' to make them grow;' wherefore they called the 
feast izcalli, 'growing.' They finished by giving the little things pulque 
in tiny cups, and for this the feast was called the ' drunkenness of children.' 
Sahagun, IDst. Gen., torn, i., lib. ii., pp. 189-192. In the Spiegazione delle 
Tavok del Codice Mexicano (Vaticano), tav. xxxi., in Kingsborough' s Mex. 
Antiq., vol. v., p. 181, there is given a description of the water baptism dif- 
fering somewhat from that given in the text. It runs as follows: 'They 
took some ficitle; and having a large vessel of water near them, they made 
the leaves of the ficitle into a bunch, and dipped it into the water, with 
which they sprinkled the child; and after fumigating it with incense, they 
gave it a name, taken from the sign on which it was born; and they put into 
its hand a shield and arrow, if it was a boy, which is what the figure of 
Xiuatlatl denotes, who here represents the god of war; they also uttered 
over the child certain prayers in the manner of deprecations, that he 
might become a brave, intrepid, and courageous man. The offering which 
his parents carried to the temple the elder priests took and divided with the 
other children who were in the temple, who ran with it through the whole 
city.' Mendieta, Hist, Ecles., p. 107, again describes this rite, in substance 
as follows: 'They had a sort of baptism: thus when the child was a few 
days old, an old woman was called in, who took the child out into the court 
of the house where it was born, and washed it a certain number of times 
with the wine of the country, and as many times again with water; then 
she put a name on it, and performed certain ceremonies with the umbilical 
cord. These names were taken from the idols, or from the feasts that 
fell about that time, or from a beast or bird.' See further Esplicacion 
de la Coleccion de Mendoza, pt iii., in Kingsborough's Mex. Antiq., vol. 
v., pp. 90-1; Torquemada, Monarq. Did., torn, ii., pp. 445, 449-458; CIa~ 
viqero, Storia Ant. del Messico, torn, ii., pp. 85-9; Humboldt, Vues des 
Cordilleres, torn, ii., pp. 311, 318; Gania, Dos Piedras, pt ii., pp. 
39-41; PrascoWs Mex., vol. iii., p. 385; Brinton's Myths, pp. 122, 130; 
Muller, Amerikanische Urreligionen, p. G52; Biart, Da Terre Temperee, p. 
274. Mr Tylor, speaking of Mexico, in his Anahuac, p. 279, says: 
' Children were sprinkled with water when their names were given 
to them. This is certainly true, though the statement that they 
believed that the process purified them from original sin is probably 
a monkish fiction.' Farther reading, however, has shown Mr Tylor the 
injustice of this judgment, and in his masterly latest and greatest work (see 
Primitive Culture, vol. ii., pp. 4-9-3G), he writes as follows: ' The last group 
of rites whose course through religious history is to be outlined here, takes 
in the varied dramatic acts of ceremonial purification or Lustration. AVith 
all tin obscurity and intricacy due to age-long modification, the primitive 
thought which underlies these ceremonies is still open to view. It is the tran- 
sition from practical to symbolic cleansing, from removal of bodily impurity 
to deliverance from invisible, spiritual, and at last moral evil. (See this vol. p. 


The goddess (or god, as some have it) connected by 
the Mexicans with carnal love was variously called Tla- 
zolteotl, Ixcuina, Tlaclquani, with other names, and, 
especially it would appear in Tlascala, Xochiquetzal. 
She had no very prominent or honorable place in the 
minds of the people and was much more closely allied to 
the Roman Cloacina than to the Greek Aphrodite. 
Camargo, the Tlascaltec, gives much the most agreeable 
and pleasing account of her. Her home was in the 
ninth heaven, in a pleasant garden, watered by innu- 
merable fountains, where she passed her time spinning 
and weaving rich stuffs, in the midst of deliirhts, minis- 

O 7 (_, 7 

tered to by the inferior deities. No man was able to 
approach her, but she had in her service a crowd of 
dwarfs, buffoons, and hunchbacks, who diverted her with 
their songs and dances, and acted as messengers to such 
gods as she took a fancy to. So beautiful was she painted 
that no woman in the w r orld could equal her; and the 
place of her habitation was called Iamotamohuanichan, 
Xochitlycacan, Chitamihuany, Ciculmauhuepaniuhcan, 
and Tuhecayan, that is to say ' the place of Tamohuan, 
the place of the tree of flowers Xochitlihcacan, where the 
air is purest, beyond the nine heavens.' It was further 
said, that whoever had been touched by one of the 

119).... In old Mexico, the first act of ceremonial lustration took place at 
birth. The nurse washed the infant in the name of the water-goddess, to re- 
move the impurity of its birth, to cleanse its heart and give it a good and per- 
fect life ; then blowing on water in her right hand she washed it again, warning 
it of forthcoming trials and miseries and labors, and praying the invisible 
Deity to descend upon the water, to cleanse the child from sin and foulness, 
and to deliver it from misfortune. The second act took place some four 
days later, unless the astrologers postponed it. At a festive gathering, amid 
fires kept alight from the first ceremony, the nurse undressed the child sent 
by the gods into this sad and doleful world, bade it to receive the life-giving- 
water, and washed it, driving out evil from each limb and offering to the 
deities appointed prayers for virtue and blessing. It was then that the toy 
instruments of war or craft or household labor were placed in the boy's or 
girl's hand (a custom singularly corresponding with one usual in China), 
and the other children, instructed by their parents, gave the new-comer its 
child-name, here again to be replaced by another at manhood or womanhood. 
There is nothing unlikely in the statement that the child was also passed 
four times through the fire, but the authority this is given on is not sufficient. 
The religious character of ablution is well shown in Mexico by its form- 
ing part of the daily service of the priests. Aztec life ended as it had 
begun, with this ceremonial lustration; it was one of the funeral ceremonies 
to sprinkle the head of the corpse with the lustral water of this life.' 


flowers that grow in the beautiful garden of Xochiquet- 
zal should love to the end, should love faithfully. 28 

Boturini gives a legend in which this goddess figures 
in a very characteristic way. There was a man called 
Yappan, who, to win the regard of the gods made him- 
self a hermit, leaving his wife and his relations, and re- 
tiring to a desert place, there to lead a chaste and soli- 
tary life. In that desert was a great stone or rock, 
called Tehuehuetl, dedicated to penitential acts, which 
rock Yappan ascended and took up his abode upon like 
a western Simeon Stylites. The gods observed all this 
with attention, but doubtful of the firmness of purpose 
of the new recluse, they^ set a spy upon him in the per- 
son of an enemy of his, named Yaotl, the word ydoil in- 
deed signifying ' enemy.' Yet not even the sharpened 
eye of hate and envy could find any spot in - the austere 
continent life of the anchorite, and the many women sent 
by the gods to tempt him to pleasure were repulsed and 
I tallied. In heaven itself the chaste victories of the 
lonely saint were applauded, and it began to be thought 
that he was worthy to be transformed into some higher 
form of life. Then Tlazolteotl, feeling herself slighted 
and held for nought, rose up in her evil beauty, wrath- 
ful, contemptuous, and said : Think not, ye high and im- 
mortal gods, that this hero of yours has the force to pre- 
serve his resolution before me, or that he is worthy of 
any very sublime transformation; I descend to earth, 
behold now how strong is the vow of your devotee, how 
unfeigned his continence! 

That day the flowers of the gardens of Xochiquetzal 
were untended by their mistress, her singing dwarfs 
were silent, her messengers undisturbed by her behests, 
and away in the desert, by the lonely rock, the 
crouching spy Yaotl saw a wondrous sight: one shaped 

28 Camargo, in Xonvelles Annales des Voyages, 1843, torn, xcix., pp. 132- 
3. 'On celebrait chaqne annee une fete solennelle en l'honneur cle ( ette 
d^esse Xochiquetzal, et une foule de peuple se reunissait dans son temple. 
On disait qu'elle etait la femme de Tlaloc le dieu des eaux, et que Texcat- 
lipuca la lui avait enlevee et l'avait transported au neuvi>me ciel. Met- 
lacueyeiti etait la deesse des magiciennes. Tlaloc l'epousa quand Xochi- 
quetzal lui eut ete enlevee.' 


like a woman, but fairer than eve can conceive, ad- 
vancing toward the lean penance-withered man on 
the sacred height. Ha! thrills not the hermit's mor- 
tified flesh with something more than surprise, while 
the sweet voice speaks: My brother Yappan, I the god- 
dess Tlazolteotl, amazed at thy constancy, and commiser- 
ating thy hardships, come to comfort thee ; what way shall 
I take, or what path, that I may get up to speak with 
thee? The simple one did not see the ruse, he came 
down from his place and helped the goddess up. Alas, 
in such a crisis, what need is there to speak further? — no 
other victory of Yappan was destined to be famous in 
heaven, but in a cloud of shame his chaste light went 
down for ever. And thou, shameless one, have thy 
fierce red lips had their fill of kisses, is thy Paphian 
soul satisfied withal, as now, flushed with victory, 
thou passest back to the tinkling fountains, and to the 
great tree of flowers, and to the far-reaching gardens 
where thy slaves await thee in the ninth heaven ? Do 
thine eyes lower themselves at all in any heed of 
the miserable disenchanted victim left crouching, 
humbled on his desecrated rock, his nights and days of 
fisting and weariness gone for nought, his dreams, his 
hopes dissipated, scattered like dust at the trailing of thy 
robes? And for thee, poor Yappan, the troubles of this 
life are soon to end ; Yaotl, the enemy, has not seen all 
these things for nothing; he, at least, has not borne 
hunger and thirst and weariness, has not watched and 
waited in vain. it avails nothing to lift the pleading 
hands, they are warm but not with clasping in prayer, 
and weary but not with waving the censer; the flint- 
edged mace beats down thy feeble guard, the neck that 
Tlazolteotl clasped is smitten through, the lips she kissed 
roll in the dust beside a headless trunk. 

The gods transformed the dead man into a scorpion, 
with the forearms fixed lifted up as when he deprecated 
the blow of his murderer; and he crawled under the 
stone upon which he had abode. His wife, whose name 
was Tlahuitzin, that is to say ' the inflamed,' still lived. 


The implacable Yaotl sought her out, led her to the spot 
stained with her husband's blood, detailed pitilessly the 
circumstances of the sin and death of the hermit, and 
then smote off her head. The gods transformed the poor 
woman into that species of scorpion called the alacran 
encendido, and she crawled under the stone and found 
her husband. And so it comes that tradition says that 
all reddish colored scorpions are descended from Tlahui- 
tzin, and all dusky or ash-colored scorpions from Yap- 
pan, while both keep hidden under the stones and flee 
the light for shame of their disgrace and punishment. 
Last of all the wrath of the gods fell on Yaotl for his 
cruelty and presumption in exceeding their commands; 
he was transformed into a sort of locust that the Mexicans 
call ahuacachapuUin. 29 

Sahagun gives a very full description of this goddess 
and her connection with certain rites of confession, much 
resembling those already described in speaking of Tez- 
catlipoca. 30 The goddess had according to our author, 
three names. The first was Tlazolteotl, that is to say 
' the goddess of carnality.' The second name was 
Yxcuina, which signifies four sisters, called respec- 
tively, and in order of age, Tiacapan, Teicu, Tlaco, 
Xucotsi. The third and last name, of this deity was 
Tlaclquani, which means 'eater of filthy things,' referring 
it is said to her function of hearing and pardoning 
the confessions of men and women guilty of unclean 
and carnal crimes. For this goddess, or these god- 
desses, had power not only to inspire and provoke to 
the commission of such sins, and to aid in their accom- 
plishment, but also to pardon them, if they were con- 
fessed to certain priests who were also diviners and tel- 
lers of fortunes and wizards generally. In this confession, 
however, Tlazolteotl seems not to have been directly ad- 

29 Boturini, Idea, pp. 15, 6%-": ' Pero, no menos indignados los Dioses 
del peca lo de Yappan, que de la iuobediencia, y atrevimiento de Yaotl, le 
convirtieroii en Langosta, que Hainan los Indios Ahuacachapullin, mandando 
se llamasse en adelante Tzontecomama, que quiere dicir, Cargo, Cabeza, y en 
efecto este animal parece que lleva cargo consigo, propriedad de los Malsines, 
que siempre cargan las bonras, que ban quitado a sus Proxinios.' 

30 See this vol. pp. 220-5. » 


dressed, but only the supreme deity under several of his 
names. Thus the person whom, by a stretch of courtesy, 
we may call the penitent, having sought out a confessor 
from the class above mentioned, addressed that function- 
ary in these words: Sir, I wish to approach the all- 
powerful god, protector of all, Yoalliehecatl, or Tezcat- 
lipoca ; I wish to confess my sins in secret. To this the 
wizard, or priest, replied: Welcome, my son; the thing 
thou would st do is for thy good and profit. This said, 
he searched the divining book, tonalamatl, to see what 
day would be most opportune for hearing the confession. 
That day come, the penitent brought a new mat, and 
white incense called copatti, and wood for the fire in 
which the incense was to be burned. Sometimes when 
he was a very noble personage, the priest went to his 
house to confess him, but as a general rule the ceremony 
took place at the residence of the priest. On entering 
this house the penitent swept very clean a portion of the 
floor and spread the new r mat there for the confessor to 
seat himself upon, and kindled the w r ood. The priest 
then threw the copal upon the fire and said: Lord, 
thou that art the father and the mother of the gods and 
the most ancient god, 31 know that here is come thy 
vassal and servant, weeping and with great sadness ; he 
is aware that he has wandered from the way, that he 
has stumbled, that he has slidden, that he is spotted 
with certain filth}^ sins and grave crimes worthy of death. 
Our Lord, very pitiful, since thou art the protector and 
defender of all, accept the penitence, give ear to the an- 
guish of this thy servant and vassal. 

At this point the confessor turned to the sinner and 
said: My son, thou art come into the presence of God, 
favorer and protector of all ; thou art come to lay bare 
thy inner rottenness and unsavoriness; thou art come to 
publish the secrets of thine heart; see that thou fall into 
no pit by tying unto our Lord ; strip thyself, put away 
all shame before him who is called Yoalliehecatl and 
Tezcatlipoca. It is certain that thou art now in his pres- 

31 See this vol., pp. 212, 22G. 


ence, although thou art not worthy to see him, neither 
will he speak with thee, for he is invisible and impalpable. 
See then to it how thou comest, and with what heart; 
fear nothing to publish thy secrets in his presence, give 
account of thy life, relate thine evil deeds as thou didst 
perforin them ; tell all with sadness to our Lord God, 
who is the favorer of all, and whose arms are open and 
ready to embrace and set thee on his shoulders. Be- 
ware of hiding anything through shame or through weak- 

Having heard these words the penitent took oath, 
after the Mexican fashion, to tell the truth. He touched 
the ground with his hand and licked off the earth that 
adhered to it; 32 , then he threw copal in the fire, which 
was another way of swearing to tell the truth. Then 
he set himself down before the priest and, inasmuch as 
he held him to be the image and vicar of «;od, he, the 
penitent, began to speak after this fashion: our Lord 
who receivest and shelterest all, give ear to my foul 
deeds; in thy presence I strip, I put away from myself 
what shameful things soever 1 have done. Xot from thee, 
of a verity, are hidden my crimes, for to thee all things 
are manifest and clear. Having thus said, the penitent 
proceeded to relate his sins in the order in which they 
had been committed, clearly and quietly, as in a slow and 

32 Other descriptions of this rite are given with additional details: ' TJsa- 
ban una ceremonia generalmente en toda esta tierra, hombres y mugeres, 
nirios y ninas, que quando entraban en algun lugar donde habia imagenes de 
los idolos, una 6 muchas, luego tocaban en la tierra con el dedo, y luego 
le llegaban a la boca 6 a la lengua: a esto llamaban comer tierra, haciendolo 
en reverencia de sus Dioses, y todos los que salian de sus casas, aunque no 
saliesen del pueblo, volviendo a su casa hacian lo niismo, y por los caminos 
quando pasaban delante algun Cu u oratorio hacian lo niismo, y en lugar de 
juramento usaban esto mismo, que para aihmar quien decia verdad hacian 
esta ceremonia, y los que se querian satisfacer del que hablaba si decia ver- 
dad, demandabanle hiciese esta ceremonia, luego le creian como juramento 
... Tenian tambien costumbre de hacer juramento de cumplir alguna cosa a 
que se obligaban, j aquel a, quien se obligaban les demandaba que hiciesen 
juramento para estar seguro de su palabra y el juramento que hacian era en 
esta forma: Por vida del Sol y de nuestra senora la tierra que no falte en lo 
que tengo dicho, y para mayor seguridad como esta tierra; y luego tocaba 
con los dedos en la tierra, llegabalos a, la boca y lamialos; y asi comia tierra 
haciendo juramento.' Kingsborough's Mex. Antiq., vol. vii., pp. 95-6, 101; 
Sahagun, Hist. Gen., torn, ii., lib. i., ap., pp. 212, 220; Clauiyei-o, Stvria Ant. 
del Mtssico, torn, ii., p. 25. 


distinctly pronounced chant, as one that walked along a 
very straight way turning neither to the right hand nor 
to the left. AVhen he had done the priest answered him 
as follows: My son, thou hast spoken before our Lord 
God, revealing to him thine evil works; and I shall now 
tell thee what thou hast to do. When the goddesses (Jiva- 
pipilti descend to the earth, or when it is the time of 
the festival of the four sister goddesses of carnality that 
are called Yxcuina, thou shalt fast four days alllicting 
thy stomach and thy mouth; this feast of the Yxcuina 
being come, at daybreak thou shalt do penance suitable 
to thy sins. 33 Through a hole pierced by a maguey-thorn 
through the middle of thy tongue thou shall pass certain 
osier-twigs called teucahacatl or tkicotl, passing them in 
front of the face and throwing them over the shoulder 
one by one; or thou mayest fasten them the one to the 
other and so pull them through thy tongue like a long 
cord. These twigs were sometimes passed through a 
hole in the ear; and, wherever they were passed, it 
would appear by our author that there were sometimes 
used of them by one penitent to the number of four 
hundred, or even of eight hundred. 

If the sin seemed too light for such a punishment as 
the preceding, the priest would say to the penitent: My 
son, thou shalt fast, thou shall fatigue thy stomach with 
hunger and thy mouth with thirst, and that for four 
days, eating only once on each day and that at noon. 
Or, the priest would say to him: Thou shalt go to offer 
paper in the usual places, thou shalt make images covered 
therewith in number proportionate to thy devotion, thou 
shalt sing and dance before them as custom directs. Or, 
again, he would say to him: Thou hast offended God, 

33 Quite different versions of this sentence are given by Kingsborough's 
and Bustamante's editions respectivel}'. That of Kingsborough's Mex. Aittiq , 
vol. vii., p. 7, reads: ' Quando decienden a la tierra las Diosas Ixcuiname, 
luego de ma nana 6 en amaneciendo, paraque hagas la penitencia eonvenible 
por tus pecados.' That of Bustamante, Sakaqun, Hist. Gen., torn, i., lib. i., 
p. 13, reads: ' Cnando dt scienden a la tierra las diosas llamadas < 'ivapipilti, 6 
cuando se hace la fiesta de las diosas de la carnalidad que se llaman Yxtui- 
name, ayunaras cuatio dias afligiendo til estomago y tu boca, y llegado el 
dia de la fiesta de estas diosas Yxtuiname, luego de manana 6 en amaneciendo 
para que hagas la penitencia eonvenible por tus pecados.' 


thou hast got drunk; thou must expiate the matter be- 
fore Totochti, the god of wine; and when thou goest to 
do penance thou shaft go at night, naked, save onfy a 
piece of paper hanging from tlry girdle in front and an- 
other behind; thou shalt repeat thy prayer and then 
throw down there before the gods those two pieces of 
paper, and so take thy departure. 

This confession was held not to have been made to 
a priest, or to a man. but to God; and, inasmuch as it 
could only be heard once in a man's life, and. as for a 
relapse into sin after it there was no forgiveness, it was 
generally put off till old age. The absolution given by 
the priest was valuable in a double regard ; the absolved 
was held shriven of every crime he had confessed, and 
clear of all pains and penalties, temporal or spiritual, 
civil or ecclesiastical, due therefor. Thus was the fiery 
lash of Nemesis bound up, thus were struck down alike 
the staff of Minos and the sword of Themis before the 
awful aegis of religion. It may be imagined with what 
reluctance this last hope, this unique life-confession was 
resorted to; it was the one city of refusre, the one Mexi- 
can benefit of sanctuary, the sole horn of the altar, of 
which a man might once take hold and live, but no 
more again for ever. 34 

34 ' De esto bien se arguye que ami que habian hecho muchos pecados en 
tiempo de su juventud, uo se confesaban de ellos hasta la vejez, por no se 
obligar a cesar de pecar antes de la vejez. por la opinion que tenian, que el 
que tornaba a reincidir en los pecados, al que se confesaba una vez no tenia 
remedio.' Kinysborouyh's Mex. Antiq., vol. vii., pp. 6-8: Sahayun, Hist. Gen., 
torn, i., lib. i.. pp. 10-16. Prescott writes, Mex., vol. i., p. G8: 'It is re- 
markable that they administered the rites of confession and absolution, 
llie secrets of the confessional were held inviolable, and penances were im- 
posed of much the same kind as those enjoined in the Roman Catholic 
Church.. There were two remarkable peculiarities in the Aztec ceremony. 
The first was. that, as the repetition of an offence, once atoned for, was 
deemed inexpiable, confession was made but once in a man's life, and was 
usually deferred to a late period of it, when the penitent unburdened his 
conscience, and settled, at once, the long arrears of iniquity. Another pecu- 
liarity was. that priestly absolution was received in place of the legal punish- 
ment of offences, and authorized an acquital in case of arrest.' Mention of 
Tlazolteotl will be found in Gomara, Conq. Mex., fol. 3t) ( J; Torquemada, 
Monarq. Ind., torn. ii.. pp. 62. 79; Herrera, Hist. Gen., torn, i., dec. ii., lib. vi., 
cap. xv.; Claviyero, Storia Ant. del Messico, torn, ii., p. 21. They say that 
Yxcuina, who was the goddess of shame, protected adulterers. She was the 
goddess of salt, of dirt, and of immodesty, and the cause of all sins. They 
painted her with two faces, or with two different colors on the face. She 


The Mexican god of fire as we have already noticed 
was usually called Xiuhtecutli. He had, however, other 
names such as Ixcozauhqui, that is to say, l yellow-faced ;' 
and Cuecaltzin, which means 'flame of fire;' and Hue- 
hueteotl, or 'the ancient god.' 35 His idol represented 
a naked man, the chin hlackened with ulli, and wearing 
a lip-jewel of red stone. On his head was a parti-' 
colored paper crown, with green plumes issuing from the 
top of it like flames of fire; from the sides hung tassels 
of feathers down to the ears. The ear-rin^s of the imaire 
were of turquoise wrought in mosaic. On the idol's 
back was a dragon's head made of yellow feathers and 
some little marine shells. To the ankles were attached 
little bells or rattles. On the left arm was a shield, 
almost entirely covered with a plate of gold, into which 
were set in the shape of a cross five chalchiuites. In 
the right hand the god held a round pierced plate of 
gold, called the 'looking- plate,' (mirador omiradero) ; with 
this he covered his face, looking only through the hole 
in the golden plate. Xiuhtecutli was held by the people to 
be their father, and regarded with feelings of mingled love 
and fear; and they celebrated to him two fixed festivals 
every year, one in the tenth and another in the eighteenth 
month, together with a movable feast in which, accord- 
ing to Clavigero, they appointed magistrates and re- 
newed the ceremony of the investiture of the fiefs of the 
kingdom. The sacrifices of the first of these festivals, 
the festival of the tenth month, Xocotlveti, were par- 
ticularly cruel even for the Mexican religion. 

The assistants began by cutting down a great tree of 
five and twenty fathoms long and dressing off the 
branches, removing all it would seem but a few round 
the top. This tree was then dragged by ropes into the 
city, on rollers apparently, with great precaution against 

was the 'wife of ^Iizuitlanteeutli, the god of hell. She was also the goddess 
of prostitutes; and she presided over these thirteen signs, which were all mi- 
lucky, and thus they held that those who were born in these signs would be 
rogues or prostitutes. Spiegazione chile Tavole del Cod'ice Jlexicano, (Vatica- 
no), tav. xxxix., in Kingsborough's Mex. Antiq., vol. v., p. 184; Brasscur de 
Bourbourg, Quatre Lettres, pp. 201-2, 301. 
35 See this vol., pp, 212, 22G. 
Vol. III. 25 


bruising or spoiling it ; and the women met the entering 
procession giving those that dragged cacao to drink. 
The tree, which was called xocotl, was received into the 
court of a cu with shouts, and there set up in a hole in 
in the ground and allowed to remain for twenty days. 
On the eve of the festival Xocotlvetzi, they let this large 
tree or pole down gently to the ground, hy means of 
ropes and trestles, or rests, made of beams tied two and 
two, probably in an X shape; and carpenters dressed it 
perfectly smooth and straight, and, where the branches 
had been left, near the top, they fastened with ropes a 
kind of yard or cross-beam of five fathoms long. Then 
was prepared, to be set on the very top of the pole or 
tree, a statue of the god Xiuhtecutli, made like a man 
out of the dough of wild amaranth seeds, and covered 
and decorated with innumerable white papers. Into 
the head of the image were stuck strips of paper instead 
of hair; sashes of paper crossed the body from each 
shoulder; on the arms were pieces of paper like wings, 
painted over with figures of sparrow-hawks; a max- 
tle of paper covered the loins; and a kind of paper 
shirt or tabard covered all. Great strips of paper, half a 
fathom broad and ten fathoms long, floated from the 
feet of the dough god half way down the tree ; and into 
his head were struck three rods with a tamale or small 
pie on the top of each. The tree being now prepared 
with all these things, ten ropes were attached to the 
middle of it, and by the help of the above-mentioned 
tressles and a large crowd pulling all together, the whole 
structure was reared into an upright position and there 
fixed, with great shouting and stamping of feet. 

Then came all those that had captives to sacrifice; 
they came decorated for dancing, all the body painted 
yellow (which is the livery color of the god), and the 
face vermilion. They 7 wore a mass of the red plumage 
of the parrot, arranged to resemble a butterfly, and 
carried shields covered with white feathers and as it 
were the feet of timers or eades walking. Each one 
went dancing side by side with his captive. These 


captives had the body painted white, and the face ver- 
milion, save the cheeks which were black; they were 
adorned with papers, much, apparently, as the dough 
image was, and they had white feathers on the head and 
lip-ornaments of feathers. At set of sun the dancing 
ceased; the captives were shut up in the cal r puUi ) and 
watched by their owners, not being even allowed to sleep. 
About midnight every owner shaved away the hair of 
the top of the head of his slave, which hair, being 
fastened with red thread to a little tuft of feathers, he 
put in a small case of cane, and attached to the raf- 
ters of his house, that every one might see that he was a 
valiant man and had taken a captive. The knife with 
which this shaving was accomplished was called the claw 
of the sparrow-hawk. At daybreak the doomed and 
shorn slaves were arranged in order in front of the place 
called Tzompantli, where the skulls of the sacrificed were 
spitted in rows. Here one of the priests w r ent along the 
row of captives taking from them certain little banners 
that they carried and all their raiment or adornment, 
and burning the same in a fire; for raiment or orna- 
ment these unfortunates should need no more on earth. 
While they were standing thus all naked and wait- 
ing for death, there came another priest, carrying in 
his arms the image of the god Paynal and his 
ornaments; he ran up with this idol to the top 
of the cu Tlacacouhcan where the victims were to 
die. Down he came, then up again, and as he went 
up the second time the owners took their slaves by 
the hair and led them to the place called Apetlac and 
there left them. Immediately there descended from the 
ca those that were to execute the sacrifice, bearing bags 
of a kind of stupefying incense called yiauhili™ which 

3G ' II Jauhtli o una pianta, il cui fusto e lungo un cubito, le foglie somigli- 
anti a quelle 1 del Salcio, ma dentate, i tiori gialli, e la radice sottile. Cosi i 
fieri, come l'altre parti della pianta, hanno lo stesso odore e sapore dell' 
Anice. E' assai utile per la Medicina, ed i Medici Messicani l'adoperavano 
centre, parecchie malattie; ma servivansi ancora d'essa per alcuni usi super- 
Ktiziosi.' This is the note given by Clavigero, Storm Ant. del Messico, torn. 
ii., p. 77, in describing this festival, and the incense used for stupefying the 
victims; see a different note however, in this vol., p. 339, in which Molina 


they threw by handfuls into the faces of the victims 
to deaden somewhat their agonies in the fearful death 
before them. Each captive was then bound hand and 
foot and so carried up to the top of the cu where smoul- 
dered a huge heap of live coal. The carriers heaved their 
living burdens in; and the old narrative gives minute 
details about the great hole made in the sparkling embers 
by each slave, and how the ashy dust rose in a cloud as 
he fell. As the dust settled the bound bodies could be 
seen writhing and jerking themselves about in torment 
on their soft dull-red bed, and their ilesh could be heard 
crackling and roasting. Now came a part of the cere- 
mony requiring much experience and judgment; the 
wild-eyed priests stood grappling-hook in hand biding 
their time. The victims were not to die in the lire, the 
instant the great blisters began to rise handsomely over 
their scorched skins it was enough, they were raked 
out, The poor blackened bodies were then flung on the 
'tajon' and the agonized soul dismissed by the sacrificial 
breast-cut (from nipple to nipple, or a little lower) ; the 
heart was then torn out and cast at the feet of Xiuhte- 
cutli, 2;od of fire. 

This slaughter being over, the statue of Paynal was 
carried away to its own cu and every man went home to 
eat, xVnd the } r oung men and boys, all those called 
quexpahgue^ 1 because they had a lock of hair at the nape 
of the neck, came, together with all the people, the 
women in order among the men, and began at mid-day 
to dance and to sing in the court-jard of Xiuhtecutli; 
the place was so crowded that there was hardly room to 
move. Suddenly there arose a great cry, and a rush 
was made out of the court toward the place where was 
raised the tall tree already described at some length. 
Let us shoulder our way forward, not without risk to 

describes yiauhtli as 'black maize.' In some cases, according to Mendieta, 
Hist. Ecles., p. 100. there was given to the condemned a certain drink that 
put them beside themselves, so that they went to the sacrifice with a ghastly 
drunken merriment. 

37 ' Cuexpalli, cabello largo que dexan a los nmchachos en el cogote, quando 
los tresquilan.' Molina, Vocabulario. 


our ribs, and see what we can see : there stands the tall 
pole with streamers of paper and the ten ropes by which 
it was raised dangling from it. On the top stands the 
dough image of the fire god, with all his ornaments and 
weapons, and with the three tamales sticking out so 
oddly above his head. Ware clubs! we press too close; 
shoulder to shoulder in a thick serried ring round the 
foot of the pole stand the l captains of the youths' keep- 
ing the youngsters back with cudgels, till the word be 
given at which all may begin to climb the said pole for 
the great prize at the top. But the youths are wild for 
fame ; old renowned heroes look on ; the eyes of all the 
women of the city are fixed on the great tree where it 
shoots above the head of the struggling crowd ; glory to 
him who first gains the cross-beam and the image. 
Stand back, then, 3-e captains, let us pass! There is a 
rush, and a trampling, and despite a rain of blows, all 
the pole with its hanging ropes is aswarm with climbers, 
thrusting each other down. The first 3011th at the top 
seizes the idol of dough; he takes the shield and the 
arrows and the darts and the stick atalt for throwing 
the darts; he takes the tamales from the head of the 
statue, crumbles them up, and throws the crumbs with 
the plumes of the image down into the crowd ; the secur- 
ing of which crumbs and plumes is a new occasion for 
shouting and scrambling and fisticuffs among the multi- 
tude. AVhen the 3'oung hero comes down with the 
weapons of the god which he has secured, he is received 
with far-roaring applause and carried up to the cu Tlaca- 
couhcan, there to receive the reward of his activity and 
endurance, praises and jewels and a rich mantle not law- 
ful for another to wear, and the honor of being carried 
by the priests to his house, amid the music of horns and 
shells. The festivity is over now ; all the people lay hold 
on the ropes fastened to the tree, and pull it down 
with a crash that breaks it to pieces, together, apparently, 
with all that is left of the wild-amaranth-dough image 
of Xiuhtecutli. 38 

38 Kiujsl/orowjh's Mex. Antiq., vol. vii., pp. 8-9, 28, G3-G; Sahagun, Hist. 


Another feast of the god of fire was held in the month 
Yzcalli, the eighteenth month; it was called motlaxqui- 
antota, that is to say ' our father the fire toasts his food.' 
An image of the god of fire was made, with a frame of 
hoops and sticks tied together as the basis or model to be 
covered with his ornaments. On the head of this imao:e 
was put a shining mask of turquoise mosaic, banded 
across with rows of green chalchiuites. Upon the mask 
was put a crown fitting to the head below, wide above, 
and gorgeous with rich plumage as a flower; a wig of 
reddish hair was attached to this crown so that the 
evenly cut locks flowed from below it, behind and around 
the mask, as if the}' were natural. A robe of costly 
feathers covered all the front of the image and fell over the 
ground before the feet, so light that it shivered and floated 
with the least breath of air till the variegated feathers 
glittered and changed color like water. The back of the 
image seems to have been left unadorned, concealed by 
a throne on which it was seated, a throne covered with 
a dried tiger-skin, paws and head complete. Before this 
statue new fire was produced at midnight by boring 
rapidly by hand one stick upon another; the spunk or 
tinder so inflamed was put on the hearth and a fire lit. 39 
At break of day came all the boys and youths with game 
and fish that they had captured on the previous day; 
walking round the fire, the}^ gave it to certain old men 
that stood there, who taking it threw it into the flames 
before the god, giving the youths in return certain tam- 
ales that had been made and offered for this purpose by 
the women. To eat these tamales it was necessary to 
strip oft' the maize-leaves in which they had been wrapped 
and cooked ; these leaves were not thrown into the fire, 

Gen., torn. i.. lib. i., pp. 1G-19, lib. ii., pp. G2-4, 141-8; Clavigero, Storia Ant. 
del Messico, torn, ii., pp. 16, 7G; Spiegazione delle Tayole del Coxlice Mexicano, 
(Vaticano), tav. lvi., in Kingsborough s Mex. Antiq., vol. v., p. 11)0. 

w ' Esta estatua asi adornado no lejos de un lugar que estaba delante de 
ella, a la media noche sacaban fuego nuevo para que ardiese en aquel lugar, 
y sacabanlo con unos palos, uno puesto abajo, y sobre el barrenaban con 
otro palo, eoiiio torciendole entre las manos con gran prisa, y con aquel 
movimierito y ealor se encendia el fuego, y alii lo tomaban con yesca y en- 
cendian en el hogar.' Kingsborough' s Mex. Antiq., vol. vii., i>. 84; Sahayun, 
Hist. (Jen., torn, i,, lib. ii., p. 184. 


but were all put together and thrown into water. After 
this all the old men of the ward in which the fire was, 
drank pulque and sang hefore the image of Xiuhtecutli 
till night. This was the tenth day of the month and 
thus finished that feast, or that part of the feast, which 
was called vauquitamalqualiztli. 

On the twentieth and last day of the month was made 
another statue of the fire god, with a frame of sticks and 
hoops as already described. They put on the head of it 
a mask with a ground of mosaic of little bits of the shell 
called tapaztli, 40 composed below the mouth of black stones, 
banded across the nostrils with black stones of another 
sort, and the cheeks made of a still different stone called 
tezccqvichtU. As in the previous case there was a crown 
on this mask, and over all and over the body of the 
image costly and beautiful decorations of feather-work. 
Before the throne on which this statue sat there was a 
fire, and the youths offered game to and received cakes 
from the old men with various ceremonies; the day 
being closed with a great drinking of pulque by the old 
people, though not to the point of intoxication. Thus 
ended the eighteenth month ; and with regard to the two 
ceremonies just described, Sahagun says, that though 
not observed in all parts of Mexico, they were observed 
at least in Tezcuco. 

It will be noticed that the festivals of this month have 
been without human sacrifices; but every fourth year was 
an exception to this. In such a year on the twentieth 
and last day of this eighteenth month, being also, according 
to some, the last day of the year, the five Nemonteni, or 
unlucky days, being excepted, men and women were slain 
as images of the god of fire. The women that had to 
die carried all their apparel and ornaments on their 
shoulders, and the men did the same. Arrived thus 
naked where they had to die, men and women alike 
were decorated to resemble the god of fire; they ascended 
the cu, walked round the sacrificial stone, and then de- 

4 o Or tapachtli as Bustamante spells it. ' Tapachtli, cral, concha o venera.' 

Molina, Vocabalario. 


scended and returned to the place where they were to 
be kept for the night. Each male victim had a rope tied 
round the middle of his body which was held by his 
guards. At midnight the hair of the crown of the head 
of each was shaven off before the fire and kept for a 


relic, and the head itself was covered with a mixture 
of resin and hens' feathers. After this the doomed 
ones burned or gave away to their keepers their now 
useless apparel, and as the morning broke they were 
decorated with papers and led in procession to die, with 
singing and shouting and dancing. These festivities 
went on till mid-day, when a priest of the cu, arrayed in 
the ornaments of the god Paynal, came down, passed 
before the victims, and then went up again. The}' were 
led up after him, captives first and slaves after, in the 
order they had to die in; they suffered in the usual 
manner. There was then a grand dance of the lords, 
led by the king himself; each dancer wearing a high- 
fronted paper coronet, a kind of false nose of blue paper, 
ear-rings of turquoise mosaic, or of wood wrought with 
flowers, a blue curiously flowered jacket, and a mantle. 
Hanging to the neck of each was the figure of a dog 
made of paper and painted with flowers; in the right 
hand was carried a stick shaped like a chopping-knife, 
the lower half of which was painted red and the upper 
half white ; in the left hand was carried a little paper 
bag of copal. This dance was begun on the top of the 
cu and finished by descending and going four times 
round the court-yard of the cu ; after which all entered 
the palace with the king. This dance took place only 
once in four years, and none but the king and his lords 
could take part in it. On this day the ears of all chil- 
dren born during the three preceding years were bored 
with a bone awl, and the children themselves passed 
near or through the flames of a fire as alreadv related/ 1 
There was a further ceremony of taking the children by 
the head and lifting them up " to make them grow;" 

41 See this vol., p. 37G, note 27. 


and from this the month took its name, Yzcalli meaning 
4 growth.' i2 

There w r as generally observed in honor of fire a custom 
called ' the throwing,' which was that no one ate without 
first flinging into the fire a scrap of the food. Another 
common ceremony was in drinking pulque to first 
spill a little on the edge of the hearth. Also when a 
person began upon a jar of pulque he emptied out a 
little into a broad pan and put it beside the fire, whence 
with another vessel he spilt of it four times upon the 

edge of the hearth ; this was ' the libation or the tast- 

' 43 

The most solemn and important of all the Mexican 
festivals was that called Toxilmolpilia or Xiuhmolpilli, 
the l the binding up of the years.' Every fift}*- 
two years was called a sheaf of years; and it 
was held for certain that at the end of some sheaf 
of fifty-two years the motion of the heavenly bodies 
should cease and the world itself come to an end. 
As the possible day of destruction drew near all the 
people cast their household gods of wood and stone into 
the water, as also the stones used on the hearth for cook- 
and bruising pepper. They washed thoroughly their 
houses, and last of all put out all fires. For the lighting 
of the new fire there was a place set apart, the summit 
of a mountain called Yixachtlan, or Huixachtla, on the 
boundary line between the cities of Itztapalapa and Col- 
huacan, about six miles from the city of Mexico. In 
the production of this new fire none but priests had any 
part, and the task fell specially upon those of the ward 
Copolco. On the last clay of the fifty-two years, after 
the sun had set, all the priests clothed themselves 
with the dress and insignia of their gods, so as to 
themselves appear like very gods, and set out in pro- 

42 Khvjshorourjl, / , s Mex. Antiq., vol. vii., pp. 33, 83-7; Sahagun, Hist. Gen., 
torn, i., lib. ii., pp. 71-5, 18:}-92; Boturini, Idea, p. 138; Spiegazione (telle 
Tavola del Codice Mexicano, (Vaticano), tav. lxxiv., in Kingsboi'ough's Mex. 
AntUj., vol. v., pp. 190-7; Clavigero, Storia Ant. del Messico, torn, ii., p. 82. 

i'-> Klngsborough's Mex. Antiq., vol. vii., p. 9G; Sahagun, Hist. Gen., torn. 
i., lib. ii., ap., p. 213. 


cession for the mountain, walking very slowly, with 
much gravity and silence, as befitted the occasion and 
the garb they wore, u walking," as the}" phrased it, " like 
gods." The priest of the ward of Copolco, whose office 
it was to produce the lire, carried the instruments there- 
of in his hand, trying them from time to time to see that 
all was right. Then, a little before midnight, the mount- 
ain being gained, and a cu which was there builded for 
that ceremoii}", they began to watch the heavens and 
especially the motion of the Pleiades. Xow this night 
always fell so that at midnight these seven stars were in 
the middle of the sky with respect to the Mexican hori- 
zon ; and the priests watched them to see them pass the 
zenith and so give sign of the endurance of the world, 
for another fifty and two years. That sign was the 
signal for the production of the new fire, lit as follows. 
The bravest and finest of the prisoners taken in war was 
thrown down alive, and a board of very dry wood was 
put upon his breast; upon this the acting priest at the 
critical moment bored with another stick, twirling it 
rapidly between his palms till fire caught. Then in- 
stantly the bowels of the captive were laid open, his 
heart torn out, and it with all the boclj' thrown upon and 
consumed by a pile of fire. All this time an awful 
anxiety and suspense held possession of the people at 
large; for it was said, that if anything happened to pre- 
vent the production at the proper time of the new fire, 
there would be an end of the human race, the night and 
the darkness would be perpetual, and those terrible and 
ugly beings the Tzitzimitles 44 would descend to devour 
all mankind. As the fateful hour approached, the people 
gathered on the flat house-tops, no one willingly remain- 
ing below. All pregnant women, however, were closed 
into the granaries, their faces being covered with maize- 
leaves; for it was said that if the new fire could not be 
produced, these women would turn into fierce animals 
and devour men and women. Children also had masks 

44 Or IzitzimUes as on p. 4.27 of tliis vol. 


of maize-leaf put on their faces, and they were kept 
awake by cries and pushes, it being believed that if they 
were allowed to sleep they would become mice. 

From the crowded house-tops every eye was bent on 
Vixachtlan. Suddenly a moving speck of light was 
seen by those nearest, and then a great column of flame 
shot up against the sky. The new fire! and a great 
shout of joy went up from all the country round about. 
The stars moved on in their courses ; fifty and two years 
more at least had the universe to exist. Every one did 
penance, cutting his ear with a splinter of Hint and 
scattering the blood toward the part where the fire was; 
even the ears of children in the cradle were so cut. 
And now from the blazing pile on the mountain, burn- 
ing brands of pine candle-wood were carried by the 
swiftest runners toward every quarter of the kingdom. 
In the city of Mexico, on the temple of Iluitzilopochtli, 
before the altar, there was a fire-place of stone and lime 
containing much copal; into this a blazing brand was 
flung by the first runner, and from this place fire was 
carried to all the houses of the priests, and thence again 
to all the city. There soon blazed great central fires in 
every ward, and it was a thing to be seen the multitude 
of people that came together to get light, and the gene- 
ral rejoicings. 

The hearth-fires being thus lit, the inhabitants of every 
house began to renew their household gods and furni- 
ture, and to lay down new mats, and to put on new 
raiment; they made everything new in sign of the new 
sheaf of years; they beheaded quails, and burned in- 
cense in their court-yard toward the four quarters of the 
world, and on their hearths. After eating a meal of 
wild amaranth seed and honey, a fast was ordered, even 
the drinking of water till noon being forbidden. Then 
the eating and drinking were renewed, sacrifices of slaves 
and captives w r ere made, and the great fires renewed. 
The last solemn festival of the new fire was celebrated 
in the } T ear 1507, the Spaniards being not then in the 
land ; and through their presence, there was no public 


ceremony when the next sheaf of years was finished in 

1559/ 5 

Mictlan, the Mexican hades, or place of the dead, 
signifies either primarily, or by an acquired meaning, 
' northward, or toward the north,' though many authori- 
ties have located it underground or below the earth. 
This region was the seat of the power of a god best 
known under his title of Mictlantecutli ; his female com- 
panion was called Mictlancihuatl, made identical by some 
legends with Tlazolteoth and by others apparentl}' with the 
serpent- woman and mother goddess. 46 There has been dis- 

^ Kingsborough's 3fex. Antiq., vol. vii., pp. 157, 191-3; Sahagun, Hist. 
Gen., torn. L, lib. iv., ap., pp. 316-7, torn, ii., lib. vii., pp. 260-4; Torque- 
mada, Monarq. bid., torn, ii., pp. 292-5; Boturini, Idea, pp. 18-21; Clavi- 
gero, Storm Ant. del Messico, torn, ii., pp. 62, 84-5; Mendieta, Hist. Ecles., p. 
101; Acosta, Hist, de las Yndias, pp. 398-9. Leon y Gama, Dos Piedras, pt 
i.. pp. 51-55, differs somewhat from the text; he was unfortunate in never 
having seen the works of Sahagun. 

4G This vol. p. 59. The interpretations of the codices represent this god 
as peculiarly honored in their paintings: They place Michitlatecotle oppo- 
site to the sun, to see if he can rescue any of those seized upon bj- the lords 
of the dead, for Miehitla signifies the dead below. These nations painted 
only two of their gods with the crown called Altontcatecoatle, viz., the God 
of heaven and of abundance and this lord of the dead, which kind of crown 
I have seen upon the captains in the war of Coatle. Explication del Codex 
Telleriano Remensis, pt ii., lam. xv., in Kingsborough's Mex. Antiq., vol. v., 
p. 140. Miquitlantecotli signifies the great lord of the dead fellow in hell 
who alone after Tonacatecotle was painted with a crown, which kind of a 
crown was used in war even after the arrival of the Christians in those coun- 
tries, and was seen in the war of Coatlan, as the person who copied these 
paintings relates, who was a brother of the Order of Saint Dominic, named 
Pedro de los llios. They painted this demon near the sun; for in the same 
way as they believed that the one conducted souls to heaven, so they supposed 
that the other carried them to hell. He is here represented with his hands 
ouen and stretched toward the sun, to seize on any soul which might escape 
from him. Spkgazione delle Tavole del Codice Mexicano (Vaticano), tav. xxxiv., 
in Kingsborough's Mex. Antiq., vol. v., p. 182. The Vatican Codex says further- 
that these were four gods or principal demons in the Mexican hell. Miquit- 
lamtecotl or Zitzimitl; Yzpunteque, the lame demon, who appeared in the 
streets with the feet of a cock ; Nextepelma, scatterer of ashes ; and Contemoque, 
he who descends head-foremost. These four have goddesses, not as wives, 
but as companions, which was the simple relation in which all the Mexican 
god and goddesses stood to one another, there having been— according to 
most authorities — in their olympus neither marrying nor giving in marriage. 
Picking our way as well as possible across the frightful spelling of the inter- 
preter, the males and females seem paired as follows: To Miquitlamtecotl or 
Tzitziinitl, was joined as goddess, Miquitecacigua; to Yzpunteque, Nexoxocho; 
to Nextepelma. Micapetlacoli; and to Contemoque, Chalmecaciuatl. Spie< azi- 
one dtll" Tavole del ('"dice Mexicano I Vaticano), tav., iii., iv., in Kingsborough's 
Mex. Antiq., vol. v., pp. 162-3; Boturi n, Idea. pr>. 30-1; Sahagun, Hist. Gen., 
torn, i., lib. iii., ap. pp. 260-3; Kingsborough's Mex. Antiq., vol. v., pp. 116- 
17, says *" h ut this god was known by the further name of Tzontemoc and Acul- 


covered and there is now to be seen in the city of Mexico 
a huge compound statue, representing various deities, the 
most prominent being a certain goddess Teoyaomique, 
who, it seems to me, is almost identical with or at least 

naoacatl. Clavijero, Storia Ant. del Messioo, torn, ii., pp. G, 17. Gallatin, 
Amer. Ethnol. Soc, Transact., vol. i., pp. 350-1, says that ' Mictlanteuctli is 
specially distinguished by the interpreters as one of the crowned gods. His 
representation is found under the basis of the statue of Teoyaomiqui, and 
Gama has published the copy. According to him, the name of that god 
means, the god of the place of the dead, lie presided over the funeral of 
those who died of diseases. The souls of all those killed in battle were led 
by Teoyaomiqui to the dwelling of the sun. The others fell under the do- 
minion of Mictanteuctli. ' Torquemada, Monarq.Ind., tom.i., pp. 77, 148,447, 
torn, ii., p. 428. Brasseur de Bourbourg mentions this god and his wife, 
bringing up several interesting points, for which, however, he must bear the 
sole responsibility: S'il Existe des Sources de 1'IIist. Prim., pp. 98-9. ' Du 
fond des eaux qui couvraient le monde, ajoute un autre document mexicain 
(('<>d. Mex. Tell-Rem., fol. 4, v.), le dieudes regions d'en bas, MicUan-Teuct- 
U fait surgir un monstre marin nomme Cipactli ou Capactli (Motolinia, Wad. 
Antig. de los Ihdios, part. IMS. Dans ce document, au lieu de cipactli il y a 
capactli, qui n'est peut-etre qu'une erreur du copiste, mais qui, peut-etre 
aussi est le souvenir d'une langue perdue et qui se rattacherait au capac ou 
Manco-Capac du Perou.) : de ce monstre, qui a la forme d'un caiman, il cree 
la terre (Motolinia, Ibid.). Ne serait-ce pas la le crocodile, image du temps, 
chez les Egyptiens, et ainsi que l'indique Champollion (Dans Herapollon, i., 
CO et 70, le crocodile est le symbole du couchant et des teiiebres) symbole 
egalement de la Region du Couchant, de VAmentil Dans l'Orcus mexi- 
cain, le prince des Morts. Mictlan^Teuctli, a pour compagne Mictecacihuatl, 
celle qui etend les morts. On l'appelle Ixcuina, ou la deesse au 
visage peint ou au double visage, parce qu'elle avait le visage de 
deux couleurs, rouge avec le contour de la bouche et du nez peint en 
noir (Cod. Mex. Tell-Rem., fol. 18, v.). On lui donnait aussi le nom de 
Tlagnlteotl, la deesse de l'ordure, ou Tlacolquani, la mangeuse d'ordure, parce 
qu'elle presidait aux amours et aux plaisirs lubriques avec ses trois soeurs. 
On la trouve personinee encore avec Chantico, quelquefois representee coni- 
me un chien, soit a cause de sa lubricite, soit a cause du nom de Chiucnauh- 
Itzcuintli ou les Neuf-Chiens, qu'on lui donnait egalement (Cod. Mex Tell- 
Rem.., fol. 21, v.). C'est ainsi que dans l'ltalie ante-pelasgique, dans la 
Sicile et dans l'ile de Samothrace, anterieurement aux Thraces et aux Pelas- 
ges, on adorait une Zerinthia, une Hecate, deesse Chienne qui nourrissaifc 
se i trois fils, ses trois chiens, sur le meme autel, dans la demeure souterraine; 
Tune et l'autre rappelaient ainsi le souvenir de ces hetaires qui veillaient au 
pied des pyramides, oil elles se prostituaient aux marins, aux marchands et 
aux voyageurs, pour ramasser l'argeut necessaire al'erection des toinbeaux des 
rois. " Tout un calcul des temps, dit Eckstein (Sur les sources de la Cosmo- 
gonie de Sanchoniathon, pp. 101, 197), se rattache a l'adoration solaire de cette 
deesse et de ses fils. Le Chien, le Sirius, regne dans l'astre de ce nom, au 
zenith de l'annee, durant les jours de la canicule. On commit le cycle oula 
periode que preside l'astre du chien: on sait qu'il ne se rattache pas seule- 
ment aux institutions de la vieille Egypte, mais encore a, celles de la haute 
Asie." En Amerique le nom de la deesse Ixcuina se rattache egalement a la 
constellation du sud, o>t on la personnifie encore avec Ixtlacoliuhqui, autre 
divinity des ivrognes et des amours obscenes: les astrologues lui attribuaient 
un grand pouvoir sur les evenements de la guerre, et, dans les derniers temps, 
on en faisait dependre le chatiment des adulteres et des incestueux (Cod. M<x. 
Tell-Rem., fol. 16, v.).' See also, Brinton's Myths, pp. 130-7; Leon y Gama, 
Dos Pkdras, pt i., p. 12, pt ii., pp. G5-G. 


a connecting link between the mother goddess and the 
companion of Mictlantecutli. Mr Gallatin says 47 that 
the Mexican gods "were painted in different ways ac- 
cording to their various attributes and names: and the 
priests were also in the habit of connecting with the 
statue of a god or goddess, sj-mbolsof other deities whim 
partook of a similar character. Gama has adduced 
several instances of both practices, in the part of his dis- 
sertation which relates to the statue of the goddess of 
death found buried in the great Square of Mexico of 
which he, and lately Mr Xebel, have given copies. 48 Her 
name is Teoyaomiqui, which means, to die in sacred war, 
or ' in defense of the gods,' and she is the proper com- 
panion of Iluitzilopochtli, the god of war. The symbols 
of her own attributes are found in the upper part of the 
statue: but those from the waist downwards relate to 
other deities connected with her or with Iluitzilopochtli. 
The serpents are the symbols of his mother Cob uatfycue, 
and also of Cihuacohuatl, the serpent woman who begat 
twins, male and female, from which mankind proceeded : 
the same serpents and feathers are the symbol of Quez- 
atlcohuatl, the precious stones designate Chalchihuitlycue, 
the goddess of water; the teeth and claws refer toTlaloc 
and to Tlatocaocelocelotl (the tiger king) : and together 

47 Amor. Ethnol. 8oc. t Transact., vol. i., pp. 338-9. 

48 Speaking of the great image in the Mexican museum of antiquities sup- 
posed by some to be this Mexican goddess of war, or of death, Teoyaomique, 
Mr Trior says, Anahuac, pp. *2"22— 3 : ' The stone known as the statue of the 
War-goddess is a huge block of basalt covered with sculptures. The anti- 
quaries think that the figures on it stand for different personages, and that 
it is three gods, — Huitzilopochtli the god of Avar, Teoyaomiqui his wife, and 
Mictlanteuctli the god of hell. It has necklaces of alternate hearts and dead 
men's hands, with death's head for a central ornament. At the bottom of 
the block is a strange sprawling figure, which one cannot see now, for it is 
the base which rests on the ground; but there are two shoulders projecting 
from the idol, which show plainly that it did not stand on the ground, but 
was supported aloft on the tops of two pillars. The figure carved upon the 
bottom represents a monster holding a skull in each hand, while others hang 
from his knees and elbows. His mouth is a mere oval ring, a common fea- 
ture of Mexican idols, and four tusks project just above it. The new moon 
laid down like a bridge forms his fore head, and a star is placed on each side 
of it. This is thought to have been the conventional representation of Mict- 
lanteuctli (Lord of the land of the dead), the god of hell, which was a pla e 
of utter and eternal darkness. Probably each victim as he was led to the 
altar could look up between the two pillars and see the hideous god of hell 
staring down upon him from above,' 


with her own attributes, the whole is a most horrible 

Of this great compound statue of Huitzilopochtli (for 
the most part under his name of ? Teoyao- 
mique, and Mictlantecutli, and of the three deities sepa- 
rately Leon y Gama treats, in substance as follows, 
beginning with Mictlantecutli : 49 — 

The Chevalier Boturini mentions another of his 
names, Teoyaotlatohua, and says that as director and 
chief of sacred war he was always accompanied by 
Teoyaomique, a goddess whose business it was to 
collect the souls of those that died in war and of 
those that were sacrificed afterward as captives. Let 
these statements be put alongside of what Torquemada 
says, to wit, that in the great feast of the month Iluei- 
miccailhuitl, 50 divine names were given to dead kings 
and to all famous persons who had died heroically in 
war, and in the power of the enemy ; idols were made 
furthermore of these persons, and they were put with 
the deities; for it was said that they had gone to the place 
of delights and pleasures there to be with the gods. 
From all this it would appear that before this image, in 
which were closely united Teoyaotlatohua and Teoyao- 
mique, there were each year celebrated certain rites in 
memory and honor of dead kings and lords and captains 
and soldiers Mien in battle. And not only did the 
Mexicans venerate in the temple this image of many 

49 Leon y Gama, Bos Piedras, pt i., pp. 41-4. 

50 The tenth month, so named by the Tlascriltecs and others. See Tor- 
quemada, Monarq. hid., torn, ii., p. 298: ' Al decimo Mes del Kalendario 
lndiano llamaban sus Satrapas, Xocotlhuetzi, que quiere decir: Quando se 
cae, y acaba la Fruta, y debia de ser, por esta racon, de que por aquel Tiem- 
])o se acababa, que cae en nuestro Agosto, e ia en todo este Mes se pasan las 
Frutas en tierra fria. Pero los Tlaxcaltecas, y otros lo llamaban Hueymicea- 
i huitl, que quiere decir: La Fiesta maior de los Difuntos; y llamavanla asi, 
porque este Mes solemnicaban la memoria de los Difuntos, con grandes c!a- 
mores, y llantos, y doblados lutos. que la primera, y se tefiian los euerpos de 
color negro, y se tiznaban toda la cava; y asi, las ceremonias, que se hacian 
de Dia, y de Noche. en todos los Templos, y fuera de ellos, eran de much i 
t isteca, segun que cada vno podia hacer su sentimiento; y en este Mes da- 
ban nombre de Divinos, asr.s Eeies difuntos, y a. todas aquellasPersonas sen- 
a'adas, que havian muerto hacaiiosamente en las Guerras, y en poder de sua 
euemigos, y les hacian sus Idolos, y los colocaban, con sus Doses, diciendo, 
que avian ido al lugar de sus dekites, y pasatiempos, en comxjania de los 
otros Dioses.' 


gods, but the judicial astrologers feigned a constellation 
answering thereto and influencing persons born under 
it. In depicting this constellation Teoyaotlatohua Huit- 
zilopoclitli was represented with only half his body, as 
it were seated on a bench, and with his mouth open as 
if speaking. His head was decorated after a peculiar 
fashion with feathers, his arms were made like trunks 
of trees with branches, while from his girdle there issued 
certain herbs that fell downwards over the bench. Op- 
posite this figure was Teoyaomique, naked save a thin 
robe, 51 and standing on a pedestal, apparently holding her 
head in her hands, at any rate with her head cut off, 
her eyes bandaged, and two snakes issuing from the neck 
where the head should have been. Between the &od 
and the goddess was a flowering tree divided through the 
middle, to which was attached a beam with various cross- 
l^ieces, and over all was a bird with the head separated 
from its body. There was to be seen also the head of a 
bird in a cup, and the head of a serpent, together with 
a pot turned upside down while the contents — water as 
it would appear by the hieroglyphics attached — ran out. 
In this form were painted these two gods, as one of 
the twenty celestial signs, sufficiently noticed by Boturi- 
ni, although as he confesses, he had not arranged them 
in the proper order. Returning to notice the office at- 
tributed to Teoyaomique, that of collecting the souls of 
the dead, we find that Cristobal del Castillo says that 
all born under the sign which, with the god of war, this 
goddess ruled, were to become at an early age valorous 
soldiers; but that their career was to be short as it was 

51 As the whole description becomes a little puzzling here, I give the original, 
Leon y Gama Dos Piedras, p. 42: 'Enfrente de esta rigura esta Teoyaomique 
desnuda, y cubierta con solo mi cendal, parada sobre una basa, 6 porcion de 
] ilastra; la cabeza separada del cuerpo, arriba del cuello, con ]os ojos ven- 
dados, v en su lugar dos Viboras 6 culebras, que nacen del mismo cuello. 
Entre estas dos figuras esta un arbol de rlores partido por medio, al cual se 
junta un madero con varios atravesafios, y encima de ei una ave, cuya ca- 
beza esta tambien dividida del cuerpo. Se ve tambien otra cabeza de ave 
dentro de una j'cara, otra de sierpe, una olla con la boca para abajo, saliendo 
de e la hi materia que contenia dentro, cirya rigura parece ser la que usaban 
vara representar el agua; y fmalmente ocupan el resto del cuadro [of the re- 
presentation of the constellation above mentioned in the text] otrus gerogL- 
iicos y figuras diferentes.' 


brilliant, for they were to Kill in battle young. These 
souls were to rise to heaven, to dwell in the house of the 
sun, where were woods and groves. There they were to 
exist four years, at the end of which time they were to 
be converted into birds of rich and beautiful plumage, 
and to go about sucking flowers both in heaven and on 

To the statue mentioned above there was joined with 
great propriety the image of another god, feigned to be 
the god of hell, or of the place of the dead, which latter 
is the literal signification of his name, Mictlantecutli. 
This image was engraved in demi-relief on the lower 
plane of the stone of the great compound statue ; but it 
was also venerated separately in its own proper temple, 
called Tlalxicco, that is to say, ' in the bowels or navel 
of the earth.' Among the various offices attributed to 
this deity was that of burying the corpses of the dead, 
principally of those that died of natural infirmities; for 
the souls of these went to hell to present themselves be- 
fore this Mictlantecutli and before his wife Mictecacihu- 
atl, which name Torquemada interprets as l she that 
throws into hell.' Thither indeed it was said that these 
dead went to offer themselves as vassals carrying offer- 
ings, and to have pointed out to them the places that 
they were to occupy according to the manner of their 
death. This god of hades was further called Tzontemoc, 
a term interpreted by Torquemada to mean ' he that 
lowers his head;' but it would rather appear that it 
should take its signification from the action indicated 
by the great statue, where this deity is seen as it were 
carrying down tied to himself the heads of corpses to 
bury them in the ground, as Boturini says. The places 
or habitations supposed to exist in hell, and to which 
the souls of the dead had to go, were nine ; in the last of 
which, called Chicuhnauhmictlan, the said souls were sup- 
posed to be annihilated and totally destroyed. There 
was lastly given to this god a place in heaven, he being 
joined with one of the planets and accompanied by Teo- 
tlaraacazqui ; at his feet, there was painted a body that 

Vol. III. 20 


was half buried, or covered with earth from the head to 
the waist, while the rest stuck out uncovered. It only 
remains to be said that such was the veneration and re- 
ligious feeling with which were regarded all things re- 
lating to the dead, that not only there were invented for 
them tutelary gods, much honored by frequent feasts and 
sacrifice; but the Mexicans elevated Death itself, dedi- 
cating to it a da}' of the calendar (the first day of the 
sixth 'trecena'), joining it to the number of the celes- 
tial signs ; and erecting to it a sumptuous temple called 
Tolnahuac, within the circuit of the great temple of 
Mexico, wherein it was particularly adored with holo- 
causts and victims under the title Ce Miquiztli. 55 


52 Boturini, Idea, pp. 27-8, mentions the goddess Teoyaomique; on pp. 
30-1, he notices the respect with which Mictlantecutli and the dead were re- 
garded: ' Me resta solo tratar de la decima tercia, y ultima Deidad esto es, el 
Bios del Infierno, Geroglifico, que explica el piadoso acto de sepultar los 
muertos. y el gran respeto, que estos antiguos Indios tenian a los sepulcres, 
creyendo, a imitacion de otras Naciones, no solo que alii asistian las almas 
de los Difuntos, . . . sino que tambien dichos Parientes eran sus Dioses Indi- 
geteSj ita dicii, quasi hide geniti, cuj'os huessos, y cenizas daban alii indubita- 
bles, y ciertas sefiales de el dominio, que tuvieron en aquella misma tierra, 
donde se hallaban sepultados, la que havian domado con los sudores de la 
Agricultura, y aun defendian con los respetos, y eloquencia muda de sus cada- 

veres Nuestros Indios en la segunda Edad dedicaron dos meses de el 

aiio llamados Micaylhuifl, y Hueymicaylhuitl a la Commemoracion de los 
Difuntos, y en la tercera exercitaron varios actos de piedad en su memoria, 
prueba constante de que confessaron la immortalidad de el alma.' See fur- 
ther Torquemada, Monarq. Ind., torn, ii., pp. 529-30. Of the compound idol 
discussed above, Humboldt, des Cordilleres, torn, ii., pp. 153-7, speaks 
at some length. He says: ' On distingue, a la partie superieure, les tetes de 
deux monstres accoles et Ton trouve, a chaque face, deux yeux et une large 
gueule armee de quatre dents. Ces figures monstrueuses n'indiquent peut- 
etre que des masques: car, chez les Mexicains, on etoit dans l'usage de mas- 
quer les idoles a l'epoque de la maladie d'un roi, et dans toute autre cala- 
mity publique. Les bras et les pieds sont caches sous une draperie entouree 
d'enormes serpens, et que les Mexicains designoient sous le nom de cohuatli- 
cuye, vetement de serpent. Tous ces accessoires, surtout les franges en forme 
de plumes, sont seulptes avec le plus grand soin. M. Gama, dans un me- 
moire particulier, a rendu tres-probable que cette idole represente le dieu de 
la guerre. Huitzilopochtli, ou Tlacahuepancuexcotzin, et sa femme, ajpelee 
Teoyamiqui (de miqui, mourir, et de tcoyao, guerre divine), parcequ'elle 
conduisoit les ames des guerriers morts pour la defense des dieux, a la amis- 
on da Soleil, le paradis des Mexicains, oil elle les transformoit en colibris. 
Les tetes de morts et les mains coupees, dont quatre entourent le sein de la 
de'esse, rappeHent les horribles sacrifices (teoquauhqudzoliztli) celtbres dans 
la quinzieme periode de treize jours, apres le solstice d'ete, a 1 hormeur du 
dieu de la guerre et de sa compagne Teoyamiqui. Les mains coupees alter- 
nent avec la figure de certains vases dans lesquels on bruloit l'encens. Ces 
vases etoient appeles top-xicalli, sacs en forme de calebasse (de toptli, bourse 
tissue de fil de pite, et de xicali, calebasse). Cette idole etant sculptee sur 
toutes ses faces, meme par dessous (fig. 5), oil Ton voit represente Uidlan- 


Mixcoatl is the god, — or goddess according to some 
good authorities, — of hunting. The name means 'cloud- 
serpent' and indeed seems common to a whole class of 
deities or heroes somewhat resembling the Nibelungs of 
northern European mythology/' 3 lie is further sup- 
posed to be connected with the thunderstorm: ll Mixco- 
atl, the Cloud-Serpent, or Iztac-Mixcoatl, the White or 
Gleaming Cloud-Serpent," writes Brinton, 54 " said to 
have been the only divinity of the ancient Chichimecs, 
held in high honor by the Nahuas, Nicaraguans, and 
Otomis, and identical with Taras, supreme god of the 
Tarascos, and Camaxtli, god of the Teo- Chichimecs, is 
another personification of the thunder-storm. To this 
day this is the familiar name of the tropical tornado in 
the Mexican language. He was represented, like Jove, 
with a bundle of arrows in his hand, the thunderbolts. 
Both the Nahuas and Tarascos related legends in which 
he figured as father of the race of man. Like other 
lords of the lightning he was worshiped as the dispenser 
of riches and the patron of traffic; and in Nicaragua 
his image is described as being L engraved stones ' pro- 
bably the supposed products of the thunder." 

tzuhtli, le seujneur du lieu ties morts, on ne sauroit douter qu'elle etoit soutenue 
en l'air an moyen de deux colonnes sur lesquelles reposoient les parties mar- 
quees A et 13, dans les figures 1 et 3. D'apres cette disposition bizarre, la 
tete de l'idole se trouv >it vraisemblablement elevee de cinq a six metres au- 
di sssus du pave du temple, de maniere que les pretres (Teopixqui) trainoient 
les malheureuses victimes a l'autel, en les faisant passer au-dessous de la 
figure de Mictlanteuhtli.' 

fj] According to Brasseur de Bourbourg, in Nouvelles Annates de.s Voyages, 
1858, torn, elx., pp. 267-8: ' Les heros et demi-deux qui, sous le nom generique 
d ■ Chichimeques-Mixcohuas, jouentun si grand role dans la mythologie mex - 
c.iine, et qui du vii° an ix u si^cle de notre ere, obtinrent la preponderance sur 
] ■ plateau azteque. . . .Les plus celebres de ces heros sont Mixcoliuatl-Maza- 
tzin (le Serpent Nebuleux et le Daim), fondateur de la royaute a Tollan (au- 
jourd' hui Tula), Tetzcatlipoca, specialement adore a Tetzcuco, et son frere 
Mixcohuatl la jeune, dit Camaxtli, en particulier adore a Tlaxcallan, l'un et 
1' autre mentionn's, sous d'autres noms, parmi les rois de Culhuacan et con- 
sid r : s, ainsi que le premier, comme les principaux fondateurs de la mon- 
archie tolteque. On ignore oil ils recurent le jour. Un manuserit mexicain, 
[Codex Cliimalpopoca], en les donnant pour tils d'lztac-Mixcohuatl ou le 
Serpent Blane Nebuleux et d'Iztac-Chalehiuhlieue on li Blanche Dame 
azurje, fait allegoriquement allusion aux pays nebuleux et aquatiques oil ils 
out p is naissance; le meme document ajoute qu'ils vinrent par eau et qu 'ils 
demeurerent un certain temps en barque. Peut-etre que le nom d' Iztac ou 
Blanc, egalement donna a Mixcohuatl, designe aussi une race differente de 
eel e des Endiens et plus en rapport avec la notre.' 

54 Brinton's Myths, p. 158. 


In the fourteenth month, called Quecholli, and begin- 
ning, according to Clavigero, on the fourteenth ofNovem- 
ber, there was made with many obscure ceremonies, a feast 
to this god. On the sixth day of the month all assem- 
bled at the cu of Huitzilopochtli, where during four days 
they made arrows and darts for use in war and for 
general practice at a mark, mortifying at the same time 
their flesh by drawing blood, and by abstaining from 
women and pulque. This done they made, in honor of 
the dead, certain little mimic darts of a hand long, of 
which four seem to have been tied together with four 
splinters of candle-wood pine; these were put on the 
graves, and at set of sun, lit and burned, after which the 
ashes were interred on the spot. There were taken a 
maize-stalk of nine knots with a paper flag on the top 
that hung down to the bottom, together with a shield and 
dart belonging to the dead man, and his maxtle and 
blanket; the last two being attached to the maize-stalk. 
The hanging flag was ornamented on either side with 


red cotton thread, in the figure of an X; a piece of 
twisted white thread also hung down to which was sus- 
pended a dead humming-bird. Handfuls of the white 
feathers of the heron were tied two and two and fastened 
to the burdened maize-stalk, while all the cotton threads 
used were covered with white hen's feathers, stuck on 
with resin. Lastlj- all these were burned on a stone block 
called the quaulixicalcalico. 

In the court of the cu of Mixcoatl was scattered much 
dried grass brought from the mountains, upon which the 
old women-priests, or tioatlamacazquej seated themselves, 
each with a mat before her. All the women that had 
children came, each bringing her child and five sweet 
tamales ; and the tamales were put on the mats before 
the old women, who in return took the children, tossed 
them in their arms and then returned them to their 

About the middle of the month was made a special 
feast to this god of the tonus, to Mixcoatl. In the 
morning all prepared for a great drive-hunt, girding 


their blankets to their loins, and taking bows and arrows. 
They wended their way to a mountain-slope, anci- 
ently Zapatepec, or Yxillantonan, above the sierra of 
Atlacuizoayan, or as it is now called, according to Busta- 
mante, T acubaya. There they drove deer, rabbits, hares, 
coyotes, and other game together, little by little, every 
one in the meantime killing what he could; few or 

O 7 

no animals escaping. To the most successful hunters 
blankets were given, and every one brought to his house 
the heads of the animals he had taken, and hanged them 
up for tokens of his prowess or activity. 

There were human sacrifices in honor of this hunting 
god with other deities. The manufacturers of pulque 
bought, apparently two slaves who were decorated with 
paper and killed in honor of the gods Tlamatzincatl and 
Yzquitecatl; there were also sacrificed women supposed 
to represent the wives of these two deities. The calpix- 
quis on their part led other two slaves to the death in 
honor of Mixcoatl and of Cohuatlicue his wife. On the 
morning of the last day but one of the month, all the 
doomed were brought out and led round the cu where 
they had to die; after mid-day they were led up the cu, 
round the sacrifical block, down again, then back to the 
calpulco, to be at once guarded and forced to keep awake 
for the night. At midnight their heads were shaven 
before the fire, and every one of them burned there 
what goods he had, little paper flags, cane tobacco- 
pipes 55 and drinking- vessels; the women threw into 
the flame their raiment, their ornaments, their 
spindles, little baskets, vessels in which the spin- 
dles were twirled, warping- frames, fuller's earth, 
pieces of cane for pressing a fabric together, cords 
for fastening it up, maguey-thorns, measuring -rods, 
and other implements for weaving; and they said that 
all these things had to be &iven to them in the other 
world after their death. At daybreak these captives 
were carried or assisted up, each having a paper flag 

55 Cairns tie hnmo: Kingsborough's Mex. Antiq., vol. vii., p. 75; Sahagun, 

Hist. Gen., torn, i., lib. ii., p. 1GG. 


borne before him, to the several cues of the gods they 
were to die in honor of. Four that had to die, probably 
before Mixcoatl, were, each by four bearers, carried up 
to a temple, bound hand and foot to represent dead deer ; 
while others were merely assisted up the steps by a 
3 T outh at each arm, so that they should not faint nor fail ; 
two other youths trailing or letting them down the same 
steps after they were dead. The preceding relates 
only to the male captives, the women being slain before 
the men, in a separate cu called the coatlan; it is said 
that as they were forced up the steps of it some screamed 
and others wept. In letting the dead bodies of these 
women down the steps again, it is also specially written, 
that they were not hurled down roughly, but rolled down 
little by little. At the place where the skulls of the 
dead were exposed, waited two old women called teixa- 
mique, having by them salt water and bread and a mess 
or gruel of some kind. The carcasses of the victims 
being brought to them, they dipped cane-leaves into the 
salt water and sprinkled the faces of them therewith, 
and into each mouth they put four morsels of bread 
moistened with the gruel or mess above-mentioned. 
Then the heads were cut off and spitted on poles; and so 
the feast ended. 56 

In connection with the religious honors paid to the 
dead, it may be here said that the Mexicans had a deity 
of whom almost all we know is that he was the god of 
those that died in the houses of the lords or in the 
palaces of the principal men; he was called Macuilxo- 

56 Kingsborouqh' '.<? Mex. Antiq.. vol. vii., pp. 73-6; Sahagun, Hist. Gen., torn. 
i.. lib. ii., pp. 162-7; Torquemada, Monarq. Incl., torn, ii., pp. 148-9, 151-2, 
2S0-1; Clavigero, Storia Ant. <hl Jhssico, torn, ii., p. 79; Muller, AmeHka- 
nisohe Urreliyionen, pp. 483, 486, and elsewhere. Brasseur, as his custom is, 
euhemerizes this god, detailing the events of his reign, and theorizing on 
his policy, as soberly and belie vingly as if it were a question of the reign of 
a Loais XIV., or a Napoleon I.; see Hist. Nat. Civ., torn, i., pp. 227-35. 
Gomara, Cong. Mex., fol. 88, and others, make Camaxtle, the principal god of 
Tlascala, identical with Mixcoatl. The Chichimecs ' had only one god called 
Mixcoatl and they kept this image or statue. They held to another god, in- 
visible, without image, called Iooalliehecatl, — that is to say, god invisible and 
impalpable, favoring, sheltering, all-powerful, by whose power all live, etc' 
Sahagun, Hist. Gen., torn, ii., lib. vi., p. 64, 


chitl, ' the chief that gives flowers, or that takes care of 
the giving of flowers.' 57 The festival of this god fell 
among the movable feasts and was called Xochilhuitl, 
or \ the festival of flowers.' There were in it the usual 
preliminary fasting (that is to say, eating but once a day, 
at noon, and then only of a restricted diet), blood-letting, 
and offering of food in the temple ; though there did not 
occur therein anything suggestive either of a god of 
flowers or of a god of the more noble dead. The image 
of this deity was in the likeness of an almost naked man, 
either flayed or painted of a vermilion color; the mouth 
and chin were of three tints, white, black, and light blue ; 
the nice was of a light reddish tinge. It had a crown of 
light green color, with plumes of the same hue, and tas- 
sels that hung down to the shoulders. On the back of 
the idol was a device wrought in feathers, representing 
a banner planted on a hill; about the loins of it was a 
bright reddish blanket, fringed with sea-shells ; curiously 
wrought sandals adorned its feet; on the left arm of it 
was a white shield, in the midst of which were set four 
stones, joined two and two ; it held a sceptre, shaped like 
a heart and tipped with green and yellow feathers:' 


57 This deity must not, it would seem, be confounded with another 
mentioned by Sahagun, viz., Coatlyace, or Coatlyate, or Coatlantonan, a 
goddess of whom we know little save the fact, incidentally mentioned, that 
she was regarded with great devotion by the dealers in flowers. Sec Kings- 
borough's Mex. Antiq., vol. vii., p. 42, and Sahagun, Hist. Gen., torn, i., lib. ii., 
p. 95. 

53 Kln^shoronqW s Mex. Antiq., vol. vii., pp. 10-11, 136; Sahagun, Hist. Gen., 
torn, i., lib. i., pp. 19-22, lib. iv., p. 305. Boturini, Idea de una Hist., pp. 14-15, 
speaks of a goddess called Macuilxochiquetzalli; by a comparison of the puss- 
age with note 28 of this chapter, it will 1 think be evident that the chevalier's 
Macuilxochiquetzalli is identical not with Macuilxochitl, but with Xochiquet- 
zal, the Aztec Venus. See further, on the relations of this goddess. Bras- 
seur de Bourbourg, Hist. Nat. Civ., torn, iii., pp. 490-1: ' Matlalcm'ye, qni 
donnait son nom au versant de la montagne du cote de Tlaxcallan, etait 
regardee comme la protectrice speciale des magiciennes. La legende disait 
qu'elle etait de venue l'epouse de Tlaloc, apres que Xoehiquetzal eut tte en- 
levee a ce dieu [see this vol. p. 378]. Celle-ci, dont elle n'etait, apres tout, 
qu'une personnitication differente, etait appelee aussi Chalchiuhlycue, on le 
Jupon seme d'emeraudes, ensa qualite de deesse des eaux. Le symbole sons 
lequel on la represente, comme deesse des amours honnetes, est celui d'un 
eventail compose de cinq fleurs. ce que rend encore le nom qu'on lui donnait 
" Macuil-Xochiquetzalli." ' Brasseur. it is to be remembered, distinguishes 
between Xoehiquetzal as the goddess of honest love, and Tlazolteotl as the 
goddess of lubricity. 


Ome Acatl was the god of banquets and of guests; his 
name signified ' two canes.' When a man made a feast 
to his friends, he had the image of this deity carried to 
his house by certain of its priests; and if the host did 
not do this, the deity appeared to him in a dream, re- 
buking him in such words as these: Thou bad man, be- 
cause thou hast withheld from me my due honor, know 
that I will forsake thee and that thou shalt pay dearly 
for this insult. When this god was excessively angered, 
he was accustomed to mix hairs with the food and drink 
of the guests of the object of his wrath, so that the giver 
of the feast should be disgraced. As in the case of 
Huitzilopochtli, there was a kind of communion sacra- 
ment in connection with the adoration of this god of 
feasts: in each ward dough was taken and kneaded by 
the principal men into the figure of a bene of about a 
cubit long, called the bone of Ome Acatl. A night seems 
to have been spent in eating and in drinking pulque; then 
at break of day an unfortunate person, set up as the living 
image of the god, had his belly pricked with pins, or 
some such articles; being hurt thereby, as we are told. 
This done the bone was divided and each one ate what 
of it fell to his lot; and when those that had insulted 
this god ate, they often grew sick, and almost choked, 
and went stumbling and falling. Ome Acatl was repre- 
sented as a man seated on a bunch of cyperus-sedges. 
His face was painted white and black; upon his head 
was a paper crown surrounded by a long and broad fillet 
of divers colors, knotted up at the back of the head ; and 
again round and over the fillet, was wound a string of 
chalchiuite beads. His blanket was made like a net, and 
had a broad border of flowers woven into it. He bore 
a shield, from the lower part of which hung a kind of 
fringe of broad tassels. \n the right hand he held a 
sceptre called the thchieloiiique, or 'looker,' 59 because it 
w r as furnished with a round plate through which a hole 

53 The fire-god Xiuhtecutli used an instrument of this kind; see this vol. 
p. 385. 


was pierced , and the god kept his face covered with the 
plate and looked through the hole. 00 

Yxtliton, or Ixtlilton, — that is to say ' the little negro,' 
according to Sahagun, and ' the black-faced,' according 
to Clavigero — was a god who cured children of various 
diseases. 01 His ' oratory' was a kind of temporary build- 
ing made of painted boards ; his image was neither graven 
nor painted; it was a living man decorated with certain 
vestments. In this temple or oratory were kept many 
pans and jars, covered with boards, and containing a 
fluid which was called ' black water.' When a child 
sickened, it was brought to this temple and one of these 
jars was uncovered, upon which the child drank of the 
black water and was healed of its disease — the cure being 
probably most prompt and complete when the priests as 
well as the god knew something of physic. When one 
made a feast to this god — which seems to have been 
when one made new pulque — the man that was the 
image of Ixtlilton came to the house of the feast-giver 
with music and dancing, and preceded by the smoke of 

G0 KiiigS')orou ;Ji's Jfc.r,. Antiq., vol. vii., pp. 11-12; Sahagun, Hist. Gen., torn, 
i., lib. i , pp. 22-3; Torquemada, Monarq. Lid., tom.ii., pp. 58, 240-1; Clavi- 
gero, Storm Ant. dd Messico, torn, ii., p. 22; Brasseur de Bourbourg, Hist. 
Nat. Civ., torn, iii., p. 492. 

Gl This god, who was also known by the title of Tlaltccuin, is the third 
Mexican god connected with medicine. There is first that unnamed goddess 
described on p. 353, of this vol.; and there is then a certain Tzaputlatena , 
described by Sahagun — Kingsborough's Mex. Antiq., vol. vii., p. 4; Sahagun, 
Hist. Gen., torn, i., lib. i., pp. 7-8 — as the goddess of turpentine (see Brasseur 
de Bourbourg, Hist. Nat. Civ., torn, iii., p. 4'J4), or of some such sub- 
stance, used to cure the itch in the head, irruptions on the skin, sore 
throats, chipped feet or lips, and other such things : ' Tzaputlatena fue una 
muger, segim su nombre, nacida en el pueblo de Tzaputla, y por esto se 
Ham i la Madre de Tz iputla, porque fue la primera (pie inventd la resina que 
se llama uxitl, y es un aceyte sacado por artiricio de la resina del pi no, que 
aprovecha para sanar muchas enfermedades, y primeramente aprovecha con- 
tra una manera de bubas, 6 sarna, que nace en la cabeza, que se llama Quaxo- 
c civist.i; y tambien contra otra enfermedad es provechusa asi mismo, que 
nace en la cabeza, (pie es como bubas, que se llama Chaguachicioiztli, y tam- 
bien para la sarna de la cabeza. Aprovecha tambien contra laronguera de la 
garganta. Aprovecha tambien contra las grietas de las pies y de los Iabios. 
Es tambien contra los empeines que nacen en la cara 6 en las man< s. Es 
tambien contra el usagre ; contra muchas otras enfermedades es bueno. Y 
como esta muger debid ser la primera que hallo este aceyte, contaronla 
entre las Diosas, yh'cianla fiesta y sacrificios aquellos que venden y In. ecu 
este aceyte que se llama Uxitl.' 


copal incense. The representative of the deity having 
arrived, the first thing he did was to eat and drink; 
there were more dances and festivities in his honor, in 
which lie took part, and then he entered the cellar of 
the house, where were many jars of pulque that had been 
covered for four days with hoards or lids of some kind. 
He opened one or many of these jars, a ceremoiry called 
1 the opening of the first, or of the new wine,' and him- 
self with those that were with him drank thereof. This 
clone, he went out into the court-yard of the house, 
where there were prepared certain jars of the above- 
mentioned black water, which also had been kept covered 
four days ; these he opened, and if there was found there- 
in any dirt, or piece of straw, or hair, or ash, it was 
taken as a sign that the giver of the feast was a man of 
evil life, an adulterer, or a thief, or a quarrelsome per- 
son, and he was affronted with the charge accordingly. 
When the representative of the god set out from the 
house where all this occurred, he was presented with 
certain blankets called yxguen, or ixquen, that is to say, 
' covering of the face,' because when any fault had been 
found in the black water, the giver of the feast was put 
to shame. 02 

Opuchtli, orOpochtli, 4he left-handed,' was venerated 
b}^ fishermen as their protector and the inventor of their 
nets, fish-spears, oars, and other gear. In Cuitlahuac, an 
island of lake Chalco, there was a god of fishing called 
Amimitl, who, according to Clavigero, differed from the 
first-mentioned only in name. Sahagun says that Opuch- 
tli was counted among the number of the Tlaloques, 
and that the offerings made to him were composed of 
pulque, stalks of green maize, flowers, the smoking-canes, 
or pipes called yietl, copal incense, the odorous herb 
yiauhtli, and parched maize. These things seem to have 
been strewed before him as rushes used to be strewed 
before a procession. There were used in these solemn i- 

02 Kingsborough's Mex. Antiq., vol. vii., pp. 12-13; Saliagun, Hist. Gen., 
torn, i., lib. i., pp. 2-1-5; Claviyero, Hist. Ant. del Messico, torn, ii., p. 21. 


ties certain rattles enclosed in hollow walking-sticks. 
The image of this god was like a man, almost naked, 
with the face of that grey tint seen in quails' feathers; 
on the head was a paper crown of divers colors, made 
like a rose, as it were, of leaves overlapping each other, 
topped by green feathers issuing from a yellow tassel; 
other long tassels hung from this crown to the shoulders 
of the idol. Crossed over the breast was a green stole 
resembling that worn by the Christian priest when say- 
ing mass; on the feet were white sandals; on the left 
arm was a red shield, and in the centre of its held a 
white flower with four leaves disposed like a cross; and 
in the left hand was a sceptre of a peculiar fashion. 03 

Xipe, or Totec, or Xipetotec, or Thipetotec, is, accord- 
ing to Clavigero, a god whose name has no meaning/' 4 
who was the deity of the goldsmiths, and who was much 
venerated by the Mexicans, they being persuaded that 
those that neglected his worship would be smitten with 

03 ' Tenia en la mano izqnierda una rodela teiiida de Colorado, y en el me- 
dio de este campo una flor blanca eon quatro ojas a manera de cruz, y de los 
espacios de las ojas salian quatro puntas que eran tambien ojas de la misma 
flor. Tenia un cetro en la mano derecha como un caliz. y de lo alto de el 
salia como un casquillo de saetas:' Kingsborough's Mex. Antiq., vol. vii., p. 13; 
Sahagun, Hist. Gen., torn, i., lib. i., pp. 2G-7; Clavigero, Storia Ant. del Messi- 
co, torn, ii., p. 2D; Torquemada, Monarq. Ind., torn, ii., pp. 00-1. ' La peche 
av lit, toutefois, son genie parti culier: c'etait Opochtli, le Gaucher, personni- 
ncation de Huitzilopochtli . . . . : ' Brasseur de Bourbourg, Hist, des Kat. Civ., 
torn, iii., p. 491. 

64 Clavigero, Storia Ant. del 3!essico, torn, ii., p. 22. This is evidently a 
blunder, however; Boturini explains Totec to mean ' god our lord,' and Xipe 
(or Oxipe. as he writes it) to signify ' god of the flaying: ' ' Tlaxipehualiztli, 
Symbolo del primer Mes, quiere decir Deshollamiento de Gentes, porque en sn 
primer dia se deshollaban unos Honibres vivos dedicados alDios Toteuc, esto 
es, Bios Senor nuestro, 6 al Dios Oxipe, Bios de el Deshollamiento, syncope de 
Tloxipeuca: ' Boturini, Idea de una Hist., p. 51. Sahagun says that the name 
means 'the flayed one.' 'Xipetotec, que quiere decir desollndo:' Kings- 
orouqK's Mex. Antiq., vol. vii., pp. 11; Sahagun, Hist. Gen., torn, i., lib. i., p. 27. 
While Torquemada affirms that it means 'the bald,' or 'the blackened one:' 
' Tenian los Plateros otro Dios, que se llamaba Xippe, y Totec. . . Este De- 
monio Xippe, que quiere decir, Calvo, d Atecado:' Torquemada, Monarq. 
Ind., torn, ii., p. 58. Brasseur, Hist. Nat. Civ., torn. iii.. p. 503, partially 
accepts all these derivations: 'Xipe. le chauve ou 1'ecorche, autrement dit 
encore Totec ou notre seigneur.' This god was further sur named, according 
to the interpreter of the Vatican Codex, 'the mournful combatant,' or, as 
Gallatin gives it, 'the disconsolate;' see Spiegazione delle Tavole del Codice 
Mexicano (Vaticano), tav. xliii., in Kingsborough's Mex. Antiq., vol. v., p. 18G; 
and Amer. Ethnol. Soc, Transact., vol. i., pp. 345, 350. 


diseases; especially the boils, the itch, and pains of the 
head and eyes. They excelled themselves therefore in 
cruelty at his festival time, occurring ordinarily in the 
second month. 

Sahagun describes this god as specially honored by 
dwellers on the sea-shore, and as having had his origin 
at Zapotlan in Jalisco. He was supposed to afflict 
people with sore eyes and with various skin-diseases, 
such as small-pox, abscesses, and itch. His image was 
made like a human form, one side or flank of it being 
painted yellow, and the other of a tawny color; down 
each side of the face from the brow to the jaw a thin 
stripe was wrought; and on the head was a little cap 
with hanging tassels. The 'upper part of the body was 
clothed with the flajed skin of a man ; round the loins 
was girt a kind of green skirt. It had on one arm a 
yellow shield with a red border, and held in both hands 
a scepter shaped like the calix of a poppy and tipped with 
an arrow-head. 05 

On the last day of the second month, — or, accord- 
ing to some authors, of the first, — Tlacaxipehualiztli, 
there was celebrated a solemn feast in honor at once 
of Xipetotec and of Huitzilopochtli. It was preceded 
by a very solemn dance at noon of the day before. 
As the night of the vigil fell, the captives were shut up 
and guarded ; at midnight — the time when it was usual 
to draw blood from the ears — the hair of the middle of 
the head of each was shaven away before a fire. When 
the dawn appeared they were led by their owners to the 
foot of the stairs of the temple of Huitzilopochtli, — and 
if they would not ascend willingly the priests dragged 
them up by the hair. The priests threw them down one 
by one on the back on a stone of three quarters of a 
yard or more high, and square on the top something 
more than a foot every way. Two assistants held the 
victim down by the i'eet^ two by the hands, and one by 
the head — tins last according to many accounts putting 

6 5 Ki)vis 1 )oroiifiJt , s Mex. Airfiq., vol. vii., p. 11; Sahajun, Hist. Gen., torn, i., 
lib. i., pp. 'i7-S; Boturini, hka de Nueva liist., p. 51. 


a yoke over the neck of the man and so pressing it down. 
Then the priest, holding with both hands a splinter 
of flint, or a stone resembling flint, like a large lance- 
head, struck across the breast therewith, and tore out the 
heart through the gash so made; which, after offering it 
to the sun and other gods by holding it up toward the 
four quarters of heaven, he threw into a wooden vessel. CG 
The blood was collected also in a vessel and given to the 
owner of the dead captive, while the bod}^, thrown down 
the temple steps, was taken to the calpule by certain 
old men, called quaquacuiltin, flayed, cut into pieces, and 
divided for eating; the king receiving the flesh of the 
thigh, while the rest of the carcass was eaten at the 
house of the owner of the captive, though, as will appear 
by a remark hereafter, 67 it is improbable that the captor 
or owner himself ate any of it. With the skin of these 
flayed persons, a party of youths called the tototecll 
clothed themselves, and fought in sham fight with an- 
other part}' of young men ; prisoners being taken on both 
sides, who were not released without a ransom of some 
kind or other. This sham battle was succeeded by com- 
bats of a terribly real sort, the famous so-called gladia- 
torial fights of Mexico. On a great round stone, like an 

r,c These human sacrifices were begun, according to Clavigero, Storia Ant. 
del Messico, torn, i., pp. 165-7, by the Mexicans, before the foundation of their 
city, while yet slaves of the Culhuas. These Mexicans had done good ser- 
vice to their rulers in a battle against the Xochimilcas. The masters were 
expected to furnish their serfs with a thank-offering for the war god. They 
sent a filthy rag and a rotten fowl. The Mexicans received and were silent. 
The day of festival came; and with it the Culhua nobles to see the sport — 
the Helots and their vile sacrifice. But the filth did not appear, only a 
course altar, wreathed with a fragrant herb, bearing a great flake of keen- 
ground obsidian. The dance began, the frenzy mounted up, the priests 
advanced to the altar, and with them they dragged four Xochimilca prison- 
ers. There is a quick struggle, and over a prisoner bruised, doubled back 
supine on the altar-block gleams and falls the itzli, driven with a two-handed 
blow. The blood spurts like a recoil into the bent face of the high priest, who 
grabbles, grasps, tears out and flings the heart to the god. Another, anoth- 
er, another, and there are four hearts beating in the lap of the grim image. 
There are more dances but there is no more sport for the Culhuas: with lips 
considerably whitened they return to their place. After this there could be 
no more mastership, nor thought of mastership over such a people; there 
wns too much of the wild beast in them; they had already tasted blood. 
And the Mexicans were allowed to leave the land of their bondage, and jour- 
ney north toward the future Tenochtitlan. 

07 See this vol., p. 415. 


enormous mill-stone, a captive was tied by a cord, pass- 
ing round his waist and through the hole of the stone, 
long enough to permit him freedom of motion every- 
where about the block — set near or at a temple called 
yopico, of the god Totec, or Xipe. 08 With various cere- 
monies, more particularly described in the preceding 
volume, the bound man furnished with inferior weapons 
was made to fight with a picked Mexican champion — 
the latter holding up his sword and shield to the sun 
before engaging. If, as sometimes happened, the desper- 
ate though hampered and ill-armed captive — whose club- 
sword was, by a refinement of mockeiy, deprived of its 
jagged flint edging and set with feathers — slew his oppo- 
nent, another champion was sent against him, and so 
on to the number of five, at which point, according to 
some, the captive was set free ; though according to other 
authorities, he was not allowed so to escape, but cham- 
pions were sent against him till he fell. Upon which a 
priest called the yooallaoa opened his breast, tore out his 
heart, offered it to the sun, and threw it into the usual 
wooden vessel; while the ropes used for binding to the 
fighting-stone were carried to the four quarters of the 
world, reverently with weeping and sighing. A second 
priest thrust a piece of cane into the gash in the victim's 
breast and held it up stained with blood to the sun. 
Then the owner of the captive came and received the 
blood into a vessel bordered with feathers ; this vessel he 
took with a little cane-and-feather broom or aspergillum 
and went about all the temples and calpules, giving to each 

cs Further notice of this stone appears in Kingsborough's J/e.r. Antiq., vol. 
vii., p. 94, or Sahagun, Hist. Gen., torn. L, lib.ii., ap., pp. 207-8: 'El sesenta 
y dos ediiicio se llamaba Temalacatl. Era una piedra como muela de rnoli- 
iio grande, y estaba agnjereada en el medio como muela de mulino. Sobre 
esta piedra ponian los esclavos y acuchillabanse con ellos: estaban atados 
por medio de tal manera que podian llegar liasta la circumfere'ncia de la 
] iedra, y dabanles annas con que peleasen. Era este un espectaculo muy 
frequente, y donde concurria gente de todas las comarcas a verle. Un satra- 
pa vestido de un pellejo de oso o Cuetlachtli, era alii el padrino de los cap- 
tivos que alii mataban, que los llevaba a la piedra y los ataba alii, y los daba 
las annas, y los lloraba entre tanto que peleaban, y quando caian los en- 
tregaba al que les habia do sacar el corazon, que era otro satrapa vestido con 
otro pellejo que se llamaba Tooallaoan. Esta relacion queda escrita en la 
fiesta de Tlacaxipeoaliztli. ' 


of the idols, as it were to taste of the blood of his captive. 
The slain body was then carried to the calpulco, — where, 
while alive, it had been confined the night before the 
sacrifice, — and there skinned. Thence it was brought to 
the house of its owner, who divided and made presents 
of it to his superiors, relatives, and friends ; not however 
tasting thereof himself, for, we are told, " he counted it 
as the flesh of his own body/' because from the hour that 
he took the prisoner " he held him to be his son, and the 
captive looked up to his captor as to a father." 

The skins of the dead belonged to their captors, who 
gave them again to others to be worn by them for appar- 
ently twenty days, probably as a kind of penance — the 
persons so clothed collecting alms from everyone in the 
meantime and bringing all they got, each to the man 
that had given him the skin. When done with, these 
skins were hid away in a rotting condition in a certain 
cave, while the ex- wearers thereof washed themselves 
with great rejoicings. At the putting away of these 
skins there assisted numbers of people ill with the itch 
and such other diseases as Xipe inflicted — hoping thus 
to be healed of their infirmities, and it is said that many 
were so cured. 09 

(; ° Einqsborough's Mex. Antiq., vol. vii., pp.23, 37-43; Sahagun, Hist. Gen., 
torn. i.. lib. ii., pp. 51-3, 86-97; Explication del Codex Telleriano-Remensis, 
pt. i., lam. iii., in Kingsborough's Mex. Antiq., vol. v., p. 133; S2)iegazione 
d '.lie Tavole del Codice Mexicano (Vaticano), tav. lxiii., in Id., vol. v., p. 191 ; Tor- 
quemada, Monarq. Ind., torn, ii., pp. 154, 252-4; Leon y Gama, Dos Piedras, pt 
ii., pp. 50-4; Prescott's Mex., vol. i., p. 78, note; Clavigero, Storia Ant. ael 
Messico, torn, ii., p. 481. We learn from Clavigero, Ibid, torn, i., pp. 281-2, 
that this great gladiatorial block was sometimes to an extraordinary extent a 
' stone of sacrifice' to the executioners as well as to the doomed victim. In 
the last year of the reign of the last Montezuma, a famous Tlascaltec general, 
Tlahuicol, was captured by the merest accident. His strength of arm was 
such that few men could lift his maquahuil, or sword of the Mexican type, 
from the ground. Montezuma, too proud to use such an inglorious triumph, 
or perhaps moved by a sincere admiration of the terrible and dignified warri- 
or, offered him his liberty, either to return to Tlascala, or to accept high 
office in Mexico. But the honor of the chief was at stake, as he understood 
it; and not even a favor would he accept from the hated Mexican: the 
death, the death! he said, and, if you dare, by battle on the gladiatorial 
stone. So they tied him, (by the foot says Clavigero), upon the t malacatl, 
armed with a great staff only, and chose out champions to kill him from the 
most renowned of the warriors; but the grim Tlascaltec dashed out the brains 
of eight with his club, and hurt twenty more, before he fell, dying like him- 
self. They tore out his heart, as of wont, and a costlier heart to Mexico 
never smoked before the sun. 


The merchants of Mexico — a class of men who hawked 
their goods from place to place and wandered often far 
into strange countries to buy or sell — had various deities 
to whom they did special honor. Among these the 
chief, and often the only one mentioned, was the god 
Yiacatecutli, or Jacateuctli, or Ijacatecuhtli, that is ' the 
lord that guides/ otherwise called Yacacoliuhqui, or 
Jacacoliuhqui. 70 This chief god of the merchants had, 
however, according to Sahagun, five brothers and a sis- 
ter, also reverenced by traders, the sister being called 
Chalmecacioatl, and the brothers respectively Chiconqui- 
avitl, Xomocuil, Nacxitl, Cochimetl, and Yacapitzaoac. 
The principal image of this god was a figure represent- 
ing a man walking alonci; a road with a staff; the face 

O O O 7 

black and white; the hair tied up in a bundle on the 
middle of the top of the head with two tassels of rich 
quetzal-feathers ; the ear-rings of gold ; the mantle blue, 
bordered with a flowered fringe, and covered with a red 
net, through whose meshes the blue appeared ; round the 
ankles leather straps from which hung marine shells; 
curiously wrought sandals on the feet; and on the arm 
a plain unornamented j-ellow shield, with a spot of light 
blue in the centre of its field. Practically, however, 
every merchant reverenced his own stout staff — gener- 
alh' made of a solid, knotless piece of black cane, called 
vlatl — as the representative or symbol of this god Yiaca- 
tecutli; keeping it, when not in use, in the oratoiy or 
sacred place in his house, and invariably putting food 
before it preliminary to eating his own meal. When 
traveling the traders were accustomed nightly to stack 
up their staves in a convenient position, bind them 
about, build a fire before them, 71 and then offering blood 

70 Tins List name means, Torquemada, Monarq. Lid., torn, ii., p. 57, 
bsing foil iwe 1, ' the hook-nosed;' and it is carious enough that this type of 
face, so generally connected with the Hebrew race and through them with 
particular astuteness in trade, should be the characteristic of the Mexican 
god of trade: ' Los mercaderes tuvieron Dios particular, al qual llamaron 
Iyacatecuhtli, y pi a 1 otro nombre se llamo Yacacoliuhqui, que quiere decir: 
El que tiene la nariz aguilefia, que propriamente representa persona que 
tiene viveca, 6 habilidad, para mofar graciosamente, 6 enganar, y es sabio, y 
sagaz (que es propia condicion de mercaderes.)' 

~i [ Without laying any particular stress on this lighting a fire before Yiaca- 


and copal, pray for preservation and shelter from the 
many perils to which their wandering life made them 
especially subject.' 


Napatecutli, that is to say i four times lord/ was the 
god of the mat- makers and of all workers in water-flags 
and rushes. A beneficent and helpful divinity, and one 
of the Tlalocs, he was known by various names, such as 
Tepahpaca Teaaltati, l the purifier or washer;' Quitzetz- 
elohua, or Tlaitlanililoni, * he that scatters or winnows 
down ;' Tlanempopoloa, l he that is large and liberal ;' 
Teatzelhuia, 'he that sprinkles with water; and Amo- 
tenenqua, ' he that shows himself grateful.' This god 
had two temples in Mexico and his festival fell in the 
thirteenth month, by Clavigero's reckoning. His image 
resembled a black man, the face being spotted with white 
and black, with tassels hanging down behind supporting 
a green plume of three feathers. Round the loins and 
reaching to the knees was girt a kind of white and black 
skirt or petticoat, adorned with little sea-shells. The 

tecutli — perhaps here necessary as a camp-fire and probably, at any rate, a 
thing done before many other gods - it may be noticed that the fire god 
seems to be particularly connected with the merchant- god and indeed with 
the merchants themselves. Describing a certain coming down or arrival of 
the gods among men, believed to take place in the twelfth Mexican month, 
Sahagun — after describing the coming, first of Tezcatlipoca, who, ' being a 
youth, and light and strong, walked fastest,' and then the coming of all 
the rest (their arrival being known to the priests by the marks of their feet 
on a little heap of maize flour, specially prepared for the purpose) — says that 
a day after all the rest of the gods, came the god of fire and the god of the 
merchants, together; they being old and unable to walk as fast as their 
younger divine brethern: 'El dia siguiente llegaba el dios de los Mercaderes 
11 imado Yiaiacapitzaoac, 6 Yiacatecutli, y otro Dios llamado Hiseocauzqui 
(Yxcocauhqui), 6 Xiveteuctli (Xiuhtecutli), que es el Dios del fuego a quien 
los mercaderes tienen grande devocion. Estos dos llegaban a, la postre un 
dia despues de los otros, porque decian que eran viejos y no andaban tanto 
como los otros:' Kingsborough's Mex. Antiq., vol. vii., p. 71, or Sahagun, Hist. 
Gen., torn, i., lib. ii., p. 158. See also, for the connection of the fire god 
Xiuhtecutli with business, this vol. p. 22G; and for the high position of the 
merchants themselves besides Tezcatlipoca see this vol., p. 228. 

72 Kingsborough's Mex. Antiq., vol. vii., pp. 14-1 G; Sahagun, Hist. Gen., torn. 
i., lib. i., pp. 29-33; Clavigero, Storia Ant. del Mcssico, torn, ii., p. 20. The 
Nahuihehecatli, or Nauiehecatl, mentioned by the interpreters of the codices, 
as a god honored by the merchants, is either some air god like Quetzalcoatl, 
or, as Sahagun gives it, merely the name of a sign: see Spiegazione dell" Ta- 
vole Codice Mexicano (Vaticano), tav. xxvii., in Emgsborough's Mex. Antiq., 
vol. v., p. 179; also. pp. 139-40; Explication del Codex Telleriano-Remensis, 
lam. xii.; also, Sahagun, Hist. Gen., torn, i., lib., iv., pp. 304-5, and Kings- 
borough's Mex. Antiq., vol. vii., pp. l'6o-G. 
Vol. III. 27 


sandals of this idol were white ; on its left arm was a 
shield made like the broad leaf of the water-lily, or ne- 
nuphar; while the right hand held a sceptre like a 
flowering staff, the flowers being of paper; and across 
the bod}', passing under the left arm, was a white scarf, 
painted over with black flowers. 73 

The Mexicans had several gods of wine, or rather of 
pulque ; of these the chief seems to have been Tezcatzon- 
catl, otherwise known as Tequechmecaniani 'the stran- 
gler,' and as Teatlahuiani 'the drowner;' epithets 
suggested by the effects of drunkenness. The companion 
deities of this Aztec Dionysus were called as a class by 
the somewhat extraordinary name of Centzontotochtin 
or ' the four hundred rabbits' ; Yiaulatecatl, Yzquitecatl, 
Acoloa, Thilhoa, Pantecatl (the Patecatl of the interpre- 
ters of the codices), Tultecatl, Papaztac, Tlaltecaiooa, 
Ometochtli (often referred to as the principal god of 
wine), Tepuztecatl, Chimapalnecatl, were deities of this 
class. The principal characteristic of the image of the 
Mexican god of drunkenness was, according to Mendieta 
and Motolinia, a kind of vessel carried on the head of 
the idol, into which vessel wine was ceremoniously 
poured. The feast of this god, like that of the preceding 
divinity, fell in the thirteenth month, Tepeilhuitl, and 
in his temple in the city of Mexico there served four 
hundred consecrated priests, so great was the service 
done this everywhere too widely and well known god. 71 

73 Kingshorough's Mex. Antiq., vol. vii., pp. 1G-17; Sahagun, Hist. Gen., torn. 
i., lib. i., pp. 33-5; Torquemada, Monarq. Ind., torn, ii., pp. 59-GO; Clavigero, 
Storia Ant. del Messico, torn, ii., p. 22. 

71 Kingsborough's Mex. Antiq., vol. vii., pp. 7, 19, 90, 93; Sahagun, Hist. 
Gen., torn, i., lib. i., pp. 14, 39-10, lib. ii., pp. 200, 205; Torquemada, Monarq. 
Ind., torn, ii., pp. 58, 152, 181, 416; Spiegazione delle Tavole del Codice Mexicano 
(Vaticano), tav. xxxv., and Explication del Codex Telleriano-Remensis, lam. 
xvi., in KingsborougJi's Mex. Antiq., vol. v., pp. 141, 182; Gallatin, in Amer. 
Elhno. Soc, Transact., vol. i., pp. 344, 350; Gomara, Conq. j\fex., fol. 87, 315; 
Clavigero, Storia Ant. del Messico, torn, ii., p. 21. ' Otros tenian figuras de 
hombres; tenian estos en la cabeza im inortero en lugar de mitra, y alii les 
echaban vino, por ser el dios del vino.' Motolinia, Hist. Indios, in Icazbalceta, 
Col. de Doc, torn, i., p. 33. ' Otros con tin inortero en la cabeza, y este parece 
que era el dios del vino, y asi le echaban vino en aquel como mortero :' Men- 
dieta, Hist. Ech's., p. 88. ' Papaztla 6 Papaztac. . . .Este era uno de los tres 
pueblos de donde se sacaban los esclavos para el sacrificio que se hacia de